March 25, 2017

September 3, 2009


Every Day for a Year - the challenging conundrum of gender roles

In a few days I’m going to start a series of posts on the whole question of the gender roles and, in particular, the terrible damage that the egalitarian argument is doing to the church.

But first, just to get us all warmed up, here’s a story from last year....

Charla Muller was reading Galatians 5.22-23 in her Bible study group when she decided what she was going to get her husband, Brad, for his 40th birthday. Perhaps disappointingly for him, it wasn’t an iTunes voucher. Instead, she was going to give him the gift of sex for 365 nights.

That’s right, you read it correctly - sex every day for a year.

Now, immediately I can hear the feminists getting their quills sharpened. “It’s The Surrendered Wife all over again” I hear them say. “It’s not right. It’s a denial of…etc. etc.”

Thing is, when you actually read the articles, (interestingly in both the left-leaning Guardian and the right-wing Daily Mail you don’t see anything about women having stuff forced upon them. Nevertheless, the critics are firm in their views:

“It’s very passive aggressive,” says Rowan Pelling, former editor of the Erotic Review. “It’s like, ‘Here’s a lovely gift, but you have to do this every night on the dot - otherwise what kind of man are you?’ I hate everything about it.”

“There’s been a series of these kinds of books from the US,” says sex educator Petra Boynton of University College London. “They are very prescriptive and they may well end up making people feel guilty and inadequate.

But the experts are obviously not so expert, as Muller herself explains…

But did it change their marriage for the better?

‘It changed completely,’ says Charla. ‘We started being more attentive to each other, not just in bed, but about the trivial little things. Brad would offer to do some chore or run an errand, and I wouldn’t be thinking he was doing it to gain sex points.

‘We became so much closer. You can’t have that sort of regular intimacy in bed without it spilling over into the rest of life.

‘There was a lot less narking and sniping. You just can’t do that all day then want to get into bed with the person at night.

‘My self-confidence was greatly improved, too. I’d always been one of those women who told herself she would want sex more if she just lost 10lb and felt a bit more sexy.

‘Now, I realise feeling sexy isn’t about being thin or gorgeous. My husband desired me as I was - it was just a case of accepting that.’

Now, of course, Charla Muller was only putting into practice what we know is true. We know it’s true because God tells us clearly in the Bible:

1 Corinthians 7:3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Let me put that in layman’s terms. If you’re married and your wife/husband wants to have sex, then have sex.

Confronted? Appalled? Thinking of throwing out terms like “marital rape” and “abuse” and “subjugation”?

If so then a couple of observations.

  1. It works! The anecdotal evidence from Charla Muller is that this choice has reaped wonderful benefits for her marriage.
  2. The instruction is always given to the unwilling party to make a choice, not to the willing party to enforce the choice. Submission is never forced.
  3. So, this is a choice that Charla made, not one forced upon her. True submission is the willing setting aside of our own desires for the benefit of the other. Charla has modelled this to us in a quite wonderful way.

In fact, I would suggest that it was Muller’s decision to keep on submitting that was so powerful and opened up for her a new understanding of her marital dynamic:

There were several occasions (Muller mentions two) when Brad was not up to their nightly tryst. On day 305, Charla came to bed as game as ever with teeth brushed, face freshly scrubbed and pulling her hair into a pony tail, only to find Brad behind a copy of Newsweek. “You know, sweetie,” he said, “I think I am going to pass tonight if you don’t mind. I’m tired, I have a big day tomorrow and we’ve been having a lot of sex lately.” In her book, she writes: “As if I hadn’t noticed. I would have ‘passed’ about 200 times by now if the offer had been the other way round.”

Like it or not, sex is a massive area of any married couple’s life. God speaks about this issue clearly because the outworking of our choices in this arena are so profound…

It wasn’t until they were having regular sex that Brad confessed he had been deeply hurt by her constant rejections.

‘He said he hated feeling that he was pleading for sex. I never thought of my rejecting that intimacy as rejecting him but, of course, it must have felt like that to Brad. Why didn’t I see that then?

‘I had always thought my marriage was so safe, so solid. I’d certainly never considered that Brad might stray, but he did confess to me that he understood why men would.

‘That was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I thought: “How inconsiderate have I been here?” ’

And that’s all I have to say on that.

Actually no. Let me just sum it all up.

Muller’s decision shows us, in a wonderful way, how right God is about our roles in marriage when He speaks to them in the Bible. By trusting what God says, not what society was telling her, Muller made a choice to submit and the benefits were many. Once again God’s word is proven to be right. Submission is not a dirty word. It’s one of the most wonderful things we can do.

And here’s the kicker - the egalitarians want to rob us, and particularly the women, of this great joy.


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86 comments

Great article except for the use of the term “gender”. (sigh!)

[1] Posted by iceworm on 9-4-2009 at 01:07 AM · [top]

Submission = sex every day? David, I think you may have just won the argument for the complementarian side.

[2] Posted by obadiahslope on 9-4-2009 at 01:41 AM · [top]

I agree with a lot of this, but my evil side wants to know what Mrs Ould thinks on this one too…

wink

[3] Posted by Derek Smith on 9-4-2009 at 02:42 AM · [top]

lol John (obadiah). I think you may have to read a little more closely… wink

[4] Posted by David Ould on 9-4-2009 at 06:09 AM · [top]

...not sure I want to read it that closely, David

[5] Posted by obadiahslope on 9-4-2009 at 06:41 AM · [top]

Wow.

Uh.

Gross.

I mean—GROSS.

Hard for me to describe the repulsion over this little gem of a story.

Husbands “stray” if you don’t give them sex every night?  Because if you express an opinion as to whether you want sex they feel rejected?  Wonder how the woman felt when he “rejected” her overture because you know . . . he was tired and had a big day.

There’s something about women’s and men’s “roles” that require “submission” into sex every night?  That’s not “marital rape” or “subjugation”—I don’t give a fig about those silly terms.  But who would have thought that a “marital role” means that a husband is all glad about having “sex” with a spouse who—almost 2/3 of the time by her own confession—doesn’t want to have sex.

Yeh . . . “submission” isn’t a dirty word at all.  But equating “submission” with “I’ll unhappily ‘have sex’ with my husband every single night for a year” sure makes it . . . again . . . just gross.

I’m with obadiahslope . . . I’m going to look more closely into this complementarianism, because if this is where “anti-egalitarianism” takes us . . .

Wow.  Just wow.

I’ve got an idea.  Maybe if the wife is really really really really “submissive” she’ll dress up as a playboy bunny every night too?  That will really really prove how submissive she is, and also fit nicely into those gender roles that we all know and love so dearly.

Because along with having sex every night for a year, one of the really great things about women’s roles is wearing that playboy bunny costume every night.

Then we’re really cookin on the women’s roles and submission and all—and heck the men’s roles too come to think of it!!!!

[6] Posted by Sarah on 9-4-2009 at 07:29 AM · [top]

< Farcical Mode ON, >
Oh, Sarah, you just don’t get it.

Only once a day, and only at night?
And she thinks she is being submissive?

Of course with a hubby that would rather read Newsweek (lefty rag that it is), one can understand a bit of her reluctance…

< Farcical Mode OFF >

[7] Posted by Bo on 9-4-2009 at 07:38 AM · [top]

Okay, Sarah, I was going to stay out of this, but then you jumped in.  I don’t think most couples could handle the every night for a year part, unless very young, and even then, this is too much of a good thing.  However, as a wife of many decades, and having talked now and then about intimate matters with other women likewise long married, I can say that I think devoted wives do with fair regularity have sex when they’re not especially interested but know their husbands need it.  I even think husbands do sometimes, although it’s a bit tougher for them to pretend.  Marriage, as the scripture says, does imply sexual access; this works both ways, but it seems more likely in most cases that it’s the woman who will minister in this way to her spouse rather than the other way around.

[8] Posted by Katherine on 9-4-2009 at 07:45 AM · [top]

But equating “submission” with “I’ll unhappily ‘have sex’ with my husband every single night for a year” sure makes it . . . again . . . just gross.

I agree, it would be if that was what was being argued.

It would be more than gross.

[9] Posted by David Ould on 9-4-2009 at 07:48 AM · [top]

In Theology of the Body, JPII talks about the husband and wife’s full (complete), free, faithful, fruitful gift of self to each other as Christ gave for us.  Marriage, the relationship between husband and wife, is a replica of Christ’s relationship to the Church. 

One of the Catholic men I know broke down at the altar on the first Sunday after their wedding.  The new bride asked him why he was sobbing and he replied, ‘For the first time ever, the words in the liturgy, ‘This is my body, given for you,’ became so real to me…because of your gift of yourself to me and mine to you.’

It would seem that Charla Muller made a decision, a free choice, and was NOT coerced or forced into ‘unhappily’ ‘submitting,’ but rather made the kind of full free ‘gift’ to her husband because of the joy and pleasure she knew it would bring him. 

She and he were surprised by the rewards.

[10] Posted by Floridian on 9-4-2009 at 07:49 AM · [top]

Katherine,
Your use of the term “minister” is a lovely way to frame this.

[11] Posted by Fidela on 9-4-2009 at 07:56 AM · [top]

Thanks, Katherine, for jumping in.  Well said.
You nailed it, so to speak.  grin

[12] Posted by more martha than mary on 9-4-2009 at 08:00 AM · [top]

The wise husband will of course:

1.  Say absolutely nothing at all about this article.

2.  Leave a copy someplace where it may be discretely encountered by his wife, and yet with credible deniability.

3.  Casually ask “What’s that you found, Honey?  It looks interesting.”  (Insert innocent-looking smiley here)

carl

[13] Posted by carl on 9-4-2009 at 08:05 AM · [top]

This article causes me to think back on all I’ve read about Natural Family Planning and what NFP proponents would say about what contraception has really done to women.  With NFP, the couple submits to God’s will everytime they are intimate and abstains during certain times….feasting together and fasting together. Mutually submitting to God and submitting to each other.  Beautiful.  I commend the wife in the article and I would bet the husband was just as intentional when choosing her birthday gift that year smile

[14] Posted by romans7_18 on 9-4-2009 at 08:30 AM · [top]

I think I will give the gift of daily sex to my wife for her fortieth birthday.

[15] Posted by therecusant on 9-4-2009 at 08:39 AM · [top]

Interesting that everyone assumes that that it is the only the husband that wants the sex, or at least that the husband wants it more than the wife.

[16] Posted by AndrewA on 9-4-2009 at 08:44 AM · [top]

RE: “I can say that I think devoted wives do with fair regularity have sex when they’re not especially interested but know their husbands need it.”

I completely agree.  The fact that a husband would actually be happy with “having sex” with his wife when 2/3 of the time she didn’t want it— and on a schedule of once a day for one year—was what actually happened however.  Really—just gross. 

How sad that a marriage would come to something so mechanistic and artificial and unhappy.  But as we can see by her commentary, the marriage had problems anyway and one thing certainly may lead to another.

RE: “I agree, it would be if that was what was being argued.”

Right—you didn’t argue that ““I’ll unhappily ‘have sex’ with my husband every single night for a year” is submission—you equated it, as I said.

In my own notion of women’s roles, it seems clear that we are to be protected and cherished.  So I’m going to leave an article lying around with the idea that the man should return from his labors to bring me breakfast, lunch, and supper in bed while I lie around on my fat derierre and that would be a fantastic example of “mutual submission” and “men’s roles.”

Mutual submission will hopefully bring him round to that idea.  And then both parties can indulge in the adolescent fantasies that appear to be the hallmark of “gender roles” these days.

The other thing I’ll need is a strikingly handsome, muscly husband to “mutually submit” himself to be chained up in the basement for me periodically.  Another great aspect of gender roles which I positively relish.

Wow.  Just sick.

[17] Posted by Sarah on 9-4-2009 at 08:47 AM · [top]

This is of course just a case study. A larger sample size would provide more hypothesis generating ideas. Hand it over to the Kinsey Institute. Maybe they will tackle such a project.

[18] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 9-4-2009 at 08:53 AM · [top]

Instead, she was going to give him the gift of sex for 365 nights.

Ignoring for a moment that I don’t see how Galatians 5 got her there… I can’t get comfortable with this shorthand for what happened (admitting that I haven’t read the full piece).

Call it “gender roles” if you wish, but if our notion of “roles” is “husband always wants sex… wives don’t but give in because they love their husbands” then there’s something wrong with our notion of “roles” and the marriages that fit same.

1 Corinthians 7 certainly doesn’t say that (and David’s shorthand summary of it is just about perfect).

This just smacks too much of two people who are only “one flesh” for 30 minutes a day… rather than all the time.

Reading a bit more I think that this speaks more of the author than the couple involved.“couples who are enduring the dark night of the soul that is the long-term relationship” ???

Heaven help his “partner”.

[19] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 9-4-2009 at 08:58 AM · [top]

#18 - I’m sure there will be no want of volunteers for this ‘research study’.

[20] Posted by Theodora on 9-4-2009 at 09:02 AM · [top]

What I like best about this article is that it was posted at roughly the same time as the Women’s Ordination Madness a couple of posts down. What a Great Day! to be on Stand Firm. And now, as one submitting to my husband (but not it That Way, its only 10 o’clock in the morning for heaven’s sake), I’m going to go wrestle all my husband’s children into some kind of educatory space. Good luck to you all.

[21] Posted by Anne Kennedy on 9-4-2009 at 09:56 AM · [top]

I guess I don’t see it as gross - I see it as an attempt to live the marriage covenant in a physical way as well as a spiritual way. Often men DO want sex more often than women - it’s the testosterone. Women can end up seeing their husbands as financial providers and not pay attention to their physical desires. They can also grudgingly have “sex” - in this case, it was the wife’s decision (no forced submission) and it was her attempt to reconnect with her husband. It worked for them.

[22] Posted by Branford on 9-4-2009 at 10:44 AM · [top]

and not pay attention to their physical desires.

Sometimes our physical desires are to go straight to bed after work.

[23] Posted by AndrewA on 9-4-2009 at 10:51 AM · [top]

(reposted)

How to say this?  Um, not gross. 

Between the honeymoon and the first child, frequent. 
Between the last two months of the pregnancy and the healing, non-existant. 
Less frequent than the honeymoon phase, while the kid is sleeping most of the day.
Less frequent than that, as the kid sleeps less and less.
Much less frequent as the kid develops separation anxiety. 
A little more frequent when the DVD player can temporarily fake out the separation anxiety. 
Less frequent when the kid wises up to the DVD fake out. 
...

And I have it better than one friend of mine.  He’s down to once every month, or couple of months, if he’s lucky.  Other issues there.  They love one another very much;  there are just other issues. 

It is mechanistic, but as long as it is voluntary.. I say, fine. 

Look, I hate to mow the lawn every week.  But when I “just do it,” I am invigorated by the activity while doing it, and gratified by the beauty, after it’s done. 

It’s marriage, and it is what it is.

[24] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-4-2009 at 10:56 AM · [top]

Moot - I agree completely - you said it much better than I. It is marriage, and it is what it is.

[25] Posted by Branford on 9-4-2009 at 11:03 AM · [top]

And here are the key things:  Mrs. Moot is -also- dissatisfied with the hurriedness, the infrequency, and I suspect also the lack of spontaneity.  Planned intimacy is such an oxymoron, but that’s the only way it ever happens anymore. 

Also, we’ve found there is a direct (as opposed to inverse) relationship between quantity and quality. 

I think it’s a good idea. 

I wouldn’t suggest it to Mrs. Moot myself, but if she suggested it…

[26] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-4-2009 at 11:20 AM · [top]

Sara –
Perhaps this will help… 
Love is not about getting.  It is about giving.  It is not an emotion.  It is a decision; a decision to give selflessly to your beloved.  It is a process by which gifts are joyfully exchanged. 

Both you and most of the other contributors to this thread seem to be hung up on the word “submission” and the subservience that word implies.  Very well.  Let’s recast the issue in light of giving gifts.  In gift giving, the giver is in no way subservient to the recipient. In fact, the initiative is with the giver.

The author of the above article made the decision to give her beloved a gift.  Perhaps her gift was a bit excessive, but who am I to judge that.  By offering it in love, it was received in love, and had some extraordinary benefits.  Her beloved responded in kind, giving the gifts of attentiveness and affection which she valued.  She learned that she was of value to her beloved as she was… Not 10 lbs lighter. Not 10 years younger. 

All of this is good.

You seem to have a mental image of her on those nights when she wasn’t “inspired” as just flopping down and telling her husband ‘OK, let’s get this over with’… I’m sure nothing is farther from the truth.  You see, even for us guys (Neanderthals that we may be), pleasing our partners is of tremendous importance.  The biggest turn-off is a woman who is “resigned to do her duty”.  Her husband would have picked up on such an attitude.  Gifts are usually received in the spirit in which they are offered.  A grudging gift is accepted grudgingly, if at all.  A gift given in love is received and responded to in love.  This and not sex itself is at the core of the above article. 

Sex is a tremendous force in our lives and for this reason elicits strong emotions.  It can be, if abused, the greatest barrier to meaningful relationships, and if coupled to love, can be a tremendous force for binding two people in true intimacy.

[27] Posted by Aardvark on 9-4-2009 at 12:31 PM · [top]

P.S.  This is my bride’s account… My name is NOT Linda.

[28] Posted by Aardvark on 9-4-2009 at 12:36 PM · [top]

OK, seriously ...

Every guy who read this article (and I do mean every single one, without exception) immediately said to himself:

That is the greatest idea ever conceived in the history of the world.  In fact, that’s the greatest idea ever conceived in this world, and every other possible world that could be imagined.

Guys who denied this would be met with the collective derisive laughter of Universal Guy-dom.

But having said that ... a wife is to be loved, and not used.  A husband must always be discerning enough to recognize the difference.

carl

[29] Posted by carl on 9-4-2009 at 12:50 PM · [top]

Guys who denied this would be met with the collective derisive laughter of Universal Guy-dom.

Laugh away.

[30] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 9-4-2009 at 01:00 PM · [top]

carl,
Only “every single” guy?  Not the married ones?

[31] Posted by Fidela on 9-4-2009 at 01:05 PM · [top]

The girl/guy differences in the responses here are facinating. And really funny. And Linda, you had me deeply perplexed by your response until you identifed yourself as “not Linda”. The fact that it was this particular thread made it even more funny!

[32] Posted by advocate on 9-4-2009 at 02:38 PM · [top]

Sorry I have to go from memory on this one, too many moves, too many folder of “valuable” information lost.

Maimonides (12th century Jewish philosopher)had such a different take on this.  In his treatise on women, it is the husband who is obligated to fulfil his wife’s conjugal rights.  If he was a man of leisure, her schedule was every night; If he was in business: twice a week; If a mule driver: every three weeks; If a camel driver: every three months; If a sailor: every 6 months.
The husband was prohibited from changing his status, from say mule driver to camel driver, without his wife’s consent as it would reduce her conjugal rights.  He could, however, become a “student of the wise” without her consent and absent himself from her bed for up to one year!  It was the custom, however, of the “students of the wise” to have sexual relations with their wives on Friday night.
A man was to be allowed as many wives as he could afford, so long as did not limit the conjugal rights of any of them.  He did have to provide a separate house and court yard for each of his wives.
Wish I could find my copy of the original…I think it was commentary on the Book of Women.
Have fun with this.  Frances Scott

[33] Posted by Frances S Scott on 9-4-2009 at 02:51 PM · [top]

Obviously, just from the thread, not every woman reading that passage from Galatians is offering her husband the GIFT of having sex every night for a year.
Something registered in her.
Would it have been the Holy Spirit nudging her (as her bible study probably prayed would happen just before beginning their study?)
Her own testimony gives what might have been such a word from the Lord for her:  the intimacy gained, the vulnerability shown (resentments and fears of personal rejection expressed by the husband but now healed), and her own realization of her resistance (his “several” times of not accepting the nightly encounter as compared to her conceded presumption of “200 times” by day 305 if it had been the other way around).

In any case, let’s not remove the factor of the Holy Spirit having something to do with this thought and gifting as a consequence of reading and contemplating the Word of God.

Get back into the ball game here.

[34] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 9-4-2009 at 02:54 PM · [top]

Hmmm.  ooops. 
That last sentence was an unintended double entendre.

[35] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 9-4-2009 at 02:58 PM · [top]

Rob+,

I’ll step up to the plate here for ya:

“SAFE!”

[36] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-4-2009 at 04:12 PM · [top]

Sarah, I find myself in rare disagreement with you.

The fact that she didn’t want to have sex 2/3 of the time that he did, yet does engage anyway, is a testimony to her true love and understanding of her husband and his needs.  It’s also a testament to her faith, in that she obviously believes that her body is not just her own, once she marries.
I think [speaking only for myself and those women to whom I am close enough to discuss such matters] that sex is much more a frequent need/desire in many men, than in many women.  I think it is well documented that this is differently gauged according to sex [and here I am speaking of what others might improperly call “gender” but which is actually the sex of the person, ie. male/female.]  [Thank you, iceworm]

Can’t remember which Woody Allen movie it was, but a memorable scene was the following:
Split screen—-she’s on the phone discussing their marriage with her best girlfriend, he’s on the phone with his best friend discussing same…. He says:  “I’m not really sure if she loves me—-We never have sex anymore—-maybe once a week at best”  while she’s saying to her friend:  “We have sex all the time—-at least once a week”

At any rate, Mullere terms it a “blessing” to her marriage, and I don’t doubt that it was/is.  I am sure my husband would love to be similarly blessed, but unless God speaks to me more personally on this (DamscusRoadBurningBushTypeSpeaking) I am just going to continue doing my best to suit my guy on a non-daily basis.

Not-really-in-the-mood doesn’t equal “gross,” and it makes me feel bad that you put it that way.

I also don’t think my husband much enjoys picking out fabrics, musing over paint chips with me, going to co-workers’ weddings, listening to my girlfriend woe, or talking about my hair.  The fact that he does all of these things fairly regularly and cheerfully shows me he loves and values me. 

There is great joy in being a giver.  (It is “more blessed to give than to receive,” after all)

A wonderful teacher once did a marriage series at church, and she said the following, which I have taken to heart, and it has enriched my marriage greatly:
“Ladies, name 3 ways your husband feels truly loved by you.

...And the first two don’t count.”

[37] Posted by heart on 9-4-2009 at 04:17 PM · [top]

#24 Moot,
Something missing from your list: 
Improvement in frequency when parents discover that Benadryl is a safe and effective way to overcome the failure of the DVD fakeout.

[38] Posted by heart on 9-4-2009 at 04:31 PM · [top]

heart,

I’m horrified!  Horrified, that you would say such a thing. 

But out of a purely achademic curiousity, what is the appropriate dosage for a 30 lb person? 

(kidding - I wouldn’t do that to my princess)

I think it’s just a matter of identifying the remaining windows of opportunity (Saturday morning, or just after Mootette slips off to sleep during weekdays, in our case) and building our routines around those windows of opportunity.  I’m probably being lazy, come to think of it. 

It’s funny though - there is very VERY little about being married that I predicted correctly, from when I was a bachelor (the same thing goes with pregnancy, and raising the child).  I got one thing right about the wedding day, and that was that “it” wouldn’t happen right away.  I was ready for our not being ready, and that readiness helped out a lot.  But the other stuff - my goodness.  There is just no way I could have known how different it would all be.  How wonderful, and how mundane, and yet somehow still mysterious, all at the same time.

[39] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-4-2009 at 04:50 PM · [top]

I find this fascinating and it makes so much sense.  I’m single, mid 30s, never married and hoping to be, and this article confirms some thoughts I’ve had—mainly that sex is so much more important on an emotional level for men, than it is for women. 

I read the Christian book “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn and she confirms this is the case.  Her analogy is (paraphrasing from my memory): Women, how would you feel if your husband didn’t talk to you?  You would feel shut out and lacking intimacy.  She then says that for men, not having sex is similar to women not having conversation.  That hit me really hard - wow - it is really that important!  I highly recommend her book, by the way.  It’s based on comprehensive surveys and interviews with over 1000 men.

It makes me wonder, if I ever do marry, whether I should prayerfully explore a “never turn him down” policy (unless I am sick or something).  I would certainly be willing to explore it.

[40] Posted by DC_Anglicangirl on 9-4-2009 at 05:02 PM · [top]

#27 not Linda B, thank you for so perfectly capturing in words what I feared to try to say and would have said less clearly, perhaps further provoking wrath from some.

I’ll finally get around to reading the whole article after a busy work day, but there did not seem to be any past or current or developing infidelity in the marriage.  There were serious issues nonetheless that Charla’s gift both revealed and healed:

It wasn’t until they were having regular sex that Brad confessed he had been deeply hurt by her constant rejections.

‘He said he hated feeling that he was pleading for sex. I never thought of my rejecting that intimacy as rejecting him but, of course, it must have felt like that to Brad. Why didn’t I see that then?
———————————————-
‘My self-confidence was greatly improved, too. I’d always been one of those women who told herself she would want sex more if she just lost 10lb and felt a bit more sexy.

‘Now, I realise feeling sexy isn’t about being thin or gorgeous. My husband desired me as I was (bolding mine - why has it so often seemed as though I was speaking in an unknown tongue when I have said that?) - it was just a case of accepting that.’
———————————-
But did it change their marriage for the better?

‘It changed completely,’ says Charla. ‘We started being more attentive to each other, not just in bed, but about the trivial little things. Brad would offer to do some chore or run an errand, and I wouldn’t be thinking he was doing it to gain sex points. (bolding mine, screen blurred from tears, dammit!)

‘We became so much closer. You can’t have that sort of regular intimacy in bed without it spilling over into the rest of life.

‘There was a lot less narking and sniping. You just can’t do that all day then want to get into bed with the person at night.

What made Charla’s gift so transforming for both her and Brad is that it was precisely that, a gift, freely offered with no ulterior motive, only moved to obey, not her husband, but the Holy Spirit speaking to her heart through the Word.  If only husbands, wives and people in every station and stage of life would at least humor the Old Man a little and live for a month as though everything in that dusty old book of His were true!  What an amazing and wonderful surprise we so often find when we do so with all our heart!  “For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

Of course if Charla had made the offer grudgingly and resentfully, it would have been just as “sick” and “gross” as it has been (IMHO) wrongly called here as though in reaction to the first blockquote while never reading the rest, and would only have deepened the hurts and distance that had apparently been growing for years.  Perhaps the “sick” and “gross” reaction was a gut-level response to past wounds rubbed raw again, only that one knows.  Know that such a knee-jerk reaction also rubs such wounds as Brad’s still-open in others still more raw and bleeding.

A new application of a passage comes to mind that may clarify further!

2 Corinthians 9:7
Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.

  smile

[41] Posted by Milton on 9-4-2009 at 05:48 PM · [top]

#40 - careful, Nova girl,  You could have your PM box full of marriage proposals before sundown.

[42] Posted by Theodora on 9-4-2009 at 05:58 PM · [top]

carl—I dont think sex every night is such a great idea, and if anyone cares to laugh that is okay.

[43] Posted by helpmelord on 9-4-2009 at 06:48 PM · [top]

It makes me wonder, if I ever do marry, whether I should prayerfully explore a “never turn him down” policy (unless I am sick or something).  I would certainly be willing to explore it.

Lol…

Novagirl,

You know… there’s always the possibility that a couple can share a love of both emotional and physical intimacy in their love for each other. I think it’s far more common than some old fuddy-duddies here might lead you to believe.

I suspect that you’ll also find that the things you learn about each other will be of greater consequence than some book about what ALL men “really think”. What about the wife with a greater drive than her husband? She must think there is something terribly wrong with her if he’s not a “two shows every night and three with the Saturday matinee” type… because all guys need it like oxygen, right?

Find the right guy, NG… have faith that the rest will sort itself out in God’s time.

[44] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 9-4-2009 at 06:51 PM · [top]

(#40)

I’d say… Like the infamous driver’s tests, be wary of the “always, sometimes, never” language.  Like I pointed out in #24, the relatively carefree routine of newly marrieds changes when well, “life” happens.  The ‘perma-date’ changes into ‘perma-family,’ which requires people jockeying around to spend time with one another (which in turn, requires thoughtfulness and elbow grease). 

I even run into this with my little princess - we typically spend an hour or so in the evening playing learning games and reading, or just hanging out watching TV together.  But .. the games we play get REALLY old, for Papa.  Usually I’ll relent when she comes at me with those big brown eyes, and says, “Daddy?  I wanna play games.”  But sometimes?  Sometimes, I just can’t.

That’s the way it is with a lot of things, y’know?

Sometimes, ya just can’t.  wink

That’s family life.

[45] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-4-2009 at 06:52 PM · [top]

Every Day For A Year???  Boring. Repetitive and Boring.

[46] Posted by Br_er Rabbit on 9-4-2009 at 07:03 PM · [top]

Branford:

“Women can end up seeing their husbands as financial providers and not pay attention to their physical desires.”

Right—and that’s a great segueway into a perfect parallel.  Suppose the wife really really likes having lots of jewelry and expensive perfume.  It really really makes her feel loved and accepted—“communicated with.”

Unfortunately the man she married does not make a lot of money.  There are some “communication issues” regarding what she would like to receive versus what he thinks the budget can handle.

But one day—after years of pain and hurt feelings on both sides—the man makes her an offer.  He will go to work in a coal mine—night shift—to make extra money to buy her jewelry.  He’s always been a work horse.  He’s got a good strong body.  His body is not his own, after all.  And by jingo that’s what he’ll do.  The advantages are—1) she’ll feel really loved, 2) he won’t have to “say no” to her desires, and 3) their communication issues will marvelously disappear because after all . . .  they won’t have to have any of these painful discusssions any more.  Plus, he’ll really gain in self esteem as he provides for his wife.  He’ll do a second 40 hour shift in a coal mine—for her—because he’s mutually submissive and after all a man’s role is to be a provider.

My response to the acceptance of such an offer would be the exact same response as the one I had above. 

Gross.  Yuck.  Sick.

All of us, of course, have our fantasies.  All of us would love for people we love to just go ahead and give us multiple get-out-of-jail free cards. 

But there are some things—some gifts—that a woman or man simply does not accept.

The acceptance of a nice living breathing blow-up doll in your wife for 365 days is one of those.

I find it *extremely* difficult to believe that our dream for our young daughter or young son [or in my case, my three young nephews or two young nieces] is for either one to marry a husband—or wife—who says “cool beans, great idea, honey” to such an offer.  Of course, as we have seen before, all of us have different values.  So perhaps this is a great dream of some of us for our daughters or sons. 

Heart:

Please note that above I made very clear to Katherine that “not-really-in-the-mood” does not equal “gross.” I’ve already made clear what’s gross about it.

[47] Posted by Sarah on 9-4-2009 at 08:14 PM · [top]

Let’s consider something more realistic, but outrageous nevertheless.  Let’s say the wife isn’t a gold-digger, but wants to stay home and take care of their famlly.  She doesn’t want her husband working two 40-hour per week jobs… just one. 

So, the man promises his wife, on their wedding day, that he will take care of her and the family, working one 40-hour per week job, for the rest of his working days. 

That’s his gift to his bride. 

And his new bride accepts the gift. 

And they schedule their lives around the 40-hour work weeks, the baby changings, and the graduations.  And their lives are enriched by the rhythm and the discipline of it all.

And sometimes, the man takes a vacation day, and goes off fishing.  And other times, he takes a sick day, when he feels sick.

[48] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-4-2009 at 08:57 PM · [top]

Wow Sarah… I’m sure that men all around the country would be pleased to hear that working a second full-time job in a coal mine is a “perfect parallel” to the sacrifice she makes when they are together. tongue laugh

[49] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 9-4-2009 at 09:00 PM · [top]

RE: “And sometimes, the man takes a vacation day, and goes off fishing.  And other times, he takes a sick day, when he feels sick.”

But the woman feels deepy hurt by his constant rejections when he does so.  She has even said she could understand why some wives—not her of course—might seek a better provider.

; > )

[50] Posted by Sarah on 9-4-2009 at 09:05 PM · [top]

But there are some things—some gifts—that a woman or man simply does not accept.

Much as I hate to admit it (and I really, really, really hate to admit it), Sarah is right in this.  Inevitably there will come a night when she is an emotional wreck for whatever reason, and yet she will attempt to keep her promise.  And the most unloving thing her husband could do at that moment is ... let her.  As it is written “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church.”

carl

[51] Posted by carl on 9-4-2009 at 09:06 PM · [top]

RE: “that working a second full-time job in a coal mine is a “perfect parallel” to the sacrifice she makes when they are together.  . . . .”

Tsk tsk—it’s a man’s role—not so bad for him at all.  That’s what men are made for—working like a horse.  What are you saying?  That somehow it’s not natural to work hard for your woman?  That she’s not worthy?

And there were only 200 days out of the year when he didn’t want to go anyway.

And it did *wonders* for their relationship—so it must have been the right thing.  She felt absolutely fantastic!

; > )

Seriously, I expect I’ve adequately expressed my opinion about this story—and the level of either 1) joy and approval or 2)  [in my case] revulsion is not likely to change either way by the commenters here.  So I’m gliding over to another thread for other entertainment . . .

[52] Posted by Sarah on 9-4-2009 at 09:15 PM · [top]

But the woman feels deepy hurt by his constant rejections when he does so.  She has even said she could understand why some wives—not her of course—might seek a better provider.

Well, then she’d be a gold-digger. 

But of course, she’s not a gold-digger, and appreciates that she is better off with him working 167 hours per month, than say, eight hours per month (sometimes less), as some husbands would prefer.

As for his remaining waking hours, these can (on the average) be spent in the company of his family and friends.  With some time of course set aside for the Lord on That Day.

So:
8 average, not acceptable.
333 average, not acceptable.

[53] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-4-2009 at 09:16 PM · [top]

RE: “Much as I hate to admit it (and I really, really, really hate to admit it), Sarah is right in this.  . . . “


Arrrrggggggggggghhhhhhhhh . . . . .  [thunk, clatter clatter clatter]

[silence]

[sniffs of despair and angst and reconsideration now . . . ]

[54] Posted by Sarah on 9-4-2009 at 09:17 PM · [top]

I think it goes without saying that any man who received such a gift would be sensitive enough to recognize when his wife was an emotional wreck and needed his support.

[55] Posted by Jackie on 9-4-2009 at 09:18 PM · [top]

What are you saying?  That somehow it’s not natural to work hard for your woman?  That she’s not worthy?

That sex with her own husband isn’t all that terrible?

[56] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 9-4-2009 at 09:22 PM · [top]

Sarah,

If it helps any, I didn’t change my mind.  What I said explicitly in [51] is what I hoped to say implicitly in [29].  Everything else was just gratuitous guy-ism.

carl smile

[57] Posted by carl on 9-4-2009 at 09:32 PM · [top]

Jackie (#55).  Yes.  But perhaps it’s good to say it anyway. 

And going back to what I said earlier:  There’s usually a lot of sex, really good sex, early in the marriage.  It’s that great time between pulling the trigger on committing to a lifetime together, and starting the family.  Then, you have a family, and the sex tapers off, and with it, the greatness of it.  Like everything, it takes effort to revive a bit of the honeymoon. 

My verdict is that this couple had themselves a great adventure, learned a lot about one another, and improved their marriage like not a lot of other people get to do.  I don’t think for one minute that they succeeded in the 367 days, or anything close to it.  And indeed, you can tell by the wife’s advice to her friends (just try to have it twice as often) that there was some flexibility built into the arrangement that they’re not talking about.  And frankly, they don’t need to talk about it, as their audience is married people, who deal with very real pitfalls that occur in the best of marriages.

[58] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-4-2009 at 09:38 PM · [top]

RE: “Suppose the wife really really likes having lots of jewelry and expensive perfume.  It really really makes her feel loved and accepted—“communicated with.”

Where in the Bible, Sarah, does it talk about love of jewelry and things as part of a Christian marriage?

[59] Posted by heart on 9-4-2009 at 09:45 PM · [top]

Moot, thank you for your compassionate comments spoken from the eyes-open perspective of being a loving, considerate spouse married to a loving, considerate spouse in an actual lived-out marriage.  The article describes the experience of another such real married couple, two actual living, breathing human beings, neither of whom seem less than full, mature, self-respecting healthy adults.  Some of the comments here reduce such people to “gross”, “sick”, absurdly hypothetical, dehumanized, cold-hearted, two-dimensional charachitures, spun out of thin air by someone not in a marriage to “prove” a point that has no ground whatever in reality.  Very sad.

[60] Posted by Milton on 9-4-2009 at 11:22 PM · [top]

[60] Milton

That comment was 1) vicious & 2) wrong.  I am most certainly married.  And one does not need to be married to understand the voluntary selfless actions one must take in service of the beloved. 

carl

[61] Posted by carl on 9-4-2009 at 11:35 PM · [top]

carl, I wasn’t referring to your comments, which I took as tongue-in-cheek when meant as such and serious when meant as such and with which I agree.  I took no offense at any of your comments.

[62] Posted by Milton on 9-5-2009 at 12:46 AM · [top]

I do think Sarah’s attempt at a jewelry parallel not only misses the mark but goes against scripture twice. If the wife had committed to give herself to her husband once a week or twice a week, would that still have been gross? Is it the whole concept or simply the frequency,  that by the way, appears to have been appropriate for this couple?

[63] Posted by Mana Holman on 9-5-2009 at 12:51 AM · [top]

Thank you, Milton.  One of the scary things (which as it turns out, is also a good thing) about this site is that it doesn’t have a ‘delete’ feature for things you’ve posted.  Consequently, there are times when I find myself breaking out in a cold sweat, about an hour after I post something.  Last night, I had one of those times when I sat awake, wondering if I had overdone it. 

I agree with most of what you are saying, but the Presbyterian in me wants to tweak it a bit.  Presbyterians don’t disagree with Secondary Standards, but they will typically go in, and register a scruple or two.  It’s very tidy, or so I’m told. 

And that would be, that though the objections are grounded in a different reality as the reality of the Mullers (and indeed most good marriages), that the objections themselves are very wholesome.  I find that not only do I “respectfully disagree” with the objections, but that I disagree with a sense of profoundly heightened respect for the person who holds them.

[64] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-5-2009 at 03:33 AM · [top]

RE: “That comment was 1) vicious & 2) wrong.”

Milton—a conservative—fell into the classic trap of the angry revisionists that we so often see on our blogs.  One cannot, according to the revisionist, make evaluations of any sort—ethical, spiritual, or other—without being and experiencing gayness, or full wommanhoodness, or being Truly Truly In Love, or impoverishment, or pregnancy with an unwanted baby, or [insert favorite here, in Milton’s case—marriage].

The fact that Milton did that indicates the level of emotion that he experienced on reading my comments.  He got angry and fell into the same irrational error as our resident revisionists as a result. 

Isn’t that just like a man!!!!!  ; > )

[kidding—the above line was a joke]

Seriously, I took no offense at his rant, which was mainly irrational and offended and angry. 

On several technical notes, I did not “reduce such people to “gross” . . . . I reduced their *behavior* and their *practice* to “gross.”  I stand right by that.  I have high hopes that neither my nieces nor nephews will have such a marriage with such a spouse.  Some have said they’re sure the guy was “sensitive”—I see no evidence of that.  We know of only two occasions in which he said “no”—and one of those at least was about himself.  The picture is of a husband who decided this was a great idea and had sex 363 times with his wife, over 200 of which times she was not really interested.  This does not seem to have concerned him.  Indeed it appears that he was really “freed up” from such concerns by this offer from his wife.

On a serious note, and after sleeping on it . . . the creepiness meter is still massively beyond the middle on this article.

Please note a few things, though. 

1) I have two dear brothers who are married and with whom I am very close.

2) I have two dear sisters-in-law [blessed be their names and long may they give their gene pool and many other sterling qualities to our family!!!!] with whom I am very close.

3) I am *actually conscious* that very often in a marriage—for both men and women—the stars are not aligned for intimate encounters, that men often want sex more frequently than women, and that often both partners do things for one another that they’re not awfully excited about all the time, including sex.  There is a lovely—and loving—give and take in a healthy marriage and it has been a pleasure to observe four independent, interesting people engage in two such marriages, with all of the challenges and heartbreaks and good times that come with them.

4) I personally believe that once married—the marriage bed is er . . . . open to varied multitudinous encounters which are not open for comment by the general public.  Were a married couple to proudly announce that one of the spouses really really enjoyed having a plastic bag over his head while engaging in sexual relations and advocate it to others, my creepiness meter would peg out, and I would raise a finger of concern.  I would mention the importance of being an image bearer and of valuing one’s life.  I would question if the relationship were quite healthy and if this were really a good idea.  I would have concerns about at least one person’s image of himself, and possibly the other as well.

But I probably would not be able to say “this is sinful and immoral behavior.”

In the same way I have not said that about this couple.  I have not stated that they either one have sinned. 

But on the other hand this woman wrote and published her article, lauding her experiment to the world, and giving instruction to other wives.  David posted it and also lauded the behavior and even somehow applied it to some series he’s going to do on the evils of egalitarianism, although I’m not certain of the connection unless he’s going to give us a pearl of an argument along the lines of “men want sex more than women—therefore egalitarianism is pernicious.”

And I’m raising my hand and saying “nope—just because it made the guy feel better, eliminated the communication issues, and did lots of other nice things—that doesn’t make it a good and healthy and repeatable thing. It’s mechanistic, and contrived, and artificial.  It reminds me heartily of some Germans in the 1890s reviewing various solid, rational, “modern” reasons why such-and-such a practice is a great, scientific, and fully enlightened and progressive practice. And wow—gross!”

I note with interest that, even as some commenters have gotten all misty-eyed about this story several have announced they’re not going to do it.

But why?

If this is the gold apple—go for it!  If this is the standard of brilliant marriage work, then why not enact such a practice?  Better yet, why not introduce the idea in our marriage encounters weekends, and our pastoral pre-marriage counseling?

And let’s not stop at once a day pledges.  Let’s think of twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.  We could simply say to the woman “look, I’m not saying you have to do this, but a good practice is for women just to go ahead and formally and permanently commit to sex every single day, twice a day.  That will take care of a lot of problems and you won’t have communication issues around the whole idea of sex, too.  The Church advocates once before 9 a.m. and once after 7 p.m. after all the dishes are washed and the kids are in bed.”

Everybody on this thread values marriage.  We all see the culture hurtling towards us with all of its pagan corruption.  We all know that we live in a secular world, and Christianity and Christian marriage is embattled in a terrible way.

Maybe there are some here who are trying to overcompensate for these issues—in the same way that some Christians think that, because there is immodesty out there and pressure on women to flaunt their bodies, and too much of an emphasis on the physical that we should all just go ahead and agree to wear burkhas as a “good wholesome practice” in order to stave off the evils of the world.

But as a Christian, and as someone who knows there are other Christian wives and single women out there reading this thread [not to mention husbands and single men], I’m not going to read such an article and keep silent or nod approval or just avoid the thread.  On the surface, without interviewing the parties or observing the marriage, I think it was a crude, rough device on the part of a desperate wife and husband who decided to short-circuit communication and normal, healthy give and take [and perhaps there wasn’t enough giving!]—that’s fine that they chose to do that for their marriage [creepy but not immoral] but writing and publishing laudatory articles about it means that I’m going to step in and say I don’t laud it one bit.

I’m glad I’ve said my piece on this thread.

And I’ll do it again when my instinct says to do so.

So given that David very deliberately connects all of this with his anti-egalitarianism topic [egalitarianism is something that I also don’t agree with], along with submission, and gender roles . . . it’s likely going to be a conflict-laden series.

And just because I’m a woman, and single, and straight, and Southern, and tall, and brunette, and Gen-X, doesn’t mean that I’m only going to express opinions about those things and none other. 

I’m going to be out enjoying a great and beautiful Saturday so I won’t be able to engage in intense arguments on this thread.  I truly did not wish to offend or anger married people on this thread.  If you’re doing the “by jingo I’ve accepted the sex card from my wife 365 whole days this year and that’s what I’m going to do” practice, I don’t think you’re immoral or wicked [other than that we all are], I don’t want to hear about it and what you do is your business, but if I do hear about it and you announce it as an excellent marriage practice, I’m going to express my strong reservations of the idea . . . and I do think you’re loutish—but not irredeemable.

[65] Posted by Sarah on 9-5-2009 at 07:18 AM · [top]

Sarah, 
You are quite something. 
One of the reasons I love SF is because I am a naturally argumentative person [not recommending this, just noting that it’s a part of my sinful make-up] and I find this a wonderful anonymous forum whereby I can state my strong opinions, believing myself to be helping or educating others (ha!) ( and actually double ha when it comes to SF-ers), and in the process find some of my deeply held values,  stances and convictions challenged and sometimes changed completely, by people who have spent more time, energy and brain-power in figuring these things out.

Further, I love it because people don’t judge me (at least not in a sense that I have to live with), and they don’t necessarily remember things I have said before, which may contracdict a presently held position, and so there is little downside to being open and as honest as I can be, something that doesn’t “come naturally” for me.

I very much appreciate the time and thought that went into your above post, and since I am one of those who would have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the once-a-day idea (though I honestly believe my husband would fell more loved, I just can’t do it) I am heartened by your clearheadedness about this issue.

And I also see that Milton’s comment was obliquely directed at you, and I hope he is man enough to apologize. 

I have learned a lot about marriage from the perspective of my unmarried friends;  as well, I have long thought that people without children are able to give great advice about rearing children.  For myself, I was much surer about parenting when I didn’t have my own kiddos.  Very sincerely, I wish I had kept a diary during the years I was watching my sisters rear their children, about the things I thought and knew and observed;  I know it would be great guidance to me today.

Anyway, thank you Stand Firm, and especially you, Sarah, for sharing your wisdom in this matter.  Although I love all the great theological debates here, I find I am most drawn to marriage/family articles, and always appreciate your perspective.

[66] Posted by heart on 9-5-2009 at 09:44 AM · [top]

And just because I’m a woman, and single, and straight, and Southern, and tall, and brunette, and Gen-X, doesn’t mean that I’m only going to express opinions about those things and none other.

Tisk tisk tisk.  I see that you forgot that, being a woman, you are only supposed to express opinions on topics like kittens.  And, since you are Southern, I suppose that, mint juleps, lemonade and pies would be appropriate topics. 

For some reason this thread reminds me of Henry Enfields guide to conjugal rights skit.

[67] Posted by AndrewA on 9-5-2009 at 09:59 AM · [top]

Hmmmm, I haven’t posted in awhile and though my personal life experience may preclude me from commentary, here goes…  my first reaction was akin to Sarah’s.  However, what this blog has helped me with is to see through my “initial reactions” and ponder.  What I ended up hearing was a tale of love in which the wife took a leadership “role.”  Perhaps if we can give up the notion of sexual relations as merely about pleasure alone then there’s a beginning.  I do know from experience that physical exercise is essential to health.  I also know that when I manage to bring myself to exercise I enjoy it much more than I thought but it takes an effort to get started.  Sexual relations are necessary for marital health and involve pleasure, intimacy, and dedicated time together.  What this woman did was choose to lead her spouse to the marital bed…further, by doing so she removed much of the power dynamics that play out in sexual relations.  I do know that marriage counselors will tell a couple to schedule time for sex in order to do the same thing - she merely chose to schedule time for sex every day.  Yes she said that 200 times she would have refused - like the 200 times a choose to stay on the sofa - that’s not to say that she had a horrible time of it those 200 times once she and her husband got down to business.  We also don’t know what the ultimate outcome was the night he said “no.”  Just my 48cents worth.

[68] Posted by renzinthewoods on 9-5-2009 at 10:28 AM · [top]

PS - one of my favorite episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond is the one about how often Frank and Marie have relations compared with Ray and Deb.  Marie fibs to Deb and says once a year.  Frank in a moment of honesty admits to a few times a week.  In the end Marie is confronted with her “lie” and end up declaring that she enjoys her sex life with her husband.  What I found REALLY interesting was the representation of this couple who appear to bicker all the time publicly still having a healthy private sexual life.

[69] Posted by renzinthewoods on 9-5-2009 at 10:37 AM · [top]

Sarah #47 - I have to disagree on your scenario. A wife who mandates that her husband give her jewelry every day is consigning him to God’s consequence for disobedience - to know the hard toil of work (Gen 3:14). A wife who decides to submit to her understanding of what the Holy Spirit might be calling her to do is fulfilling God’s first command, His command before man’s disobedience - “Be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen 1:28) Jesus said to leave others and “become one” - not just emotionally and spiritually, but physically as well. While every day for a year is not what all married couples are called to do, this couple was and their submission to that call of the Holy Spirit seems to have given them many of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Even married couples not called to this particular discipline know that sex in marriage can often be mundane, pedestrian, and routine, yet also joyful, exciting, fun, and breathtaking - sometimes all at the same time. Once one marries, one’s body is not completely one’s own anymore - and this is the way it should be in the sacrament of marriage.

[70] Posted by Branford on 9-5-2009 at 12:08 PM · [top]

I find this thread disturbing, and can’t help wondering how it ever found a place on Stand Firm.  Reading it gave me an eerie sense of deja vu, which I traced to two books I read in the 1970’s: Larry Christensen’s “The Christian Family” and Marabel Morgan’s “The Total Woman”. I see “The Christian Family” is still in print, which must mean that today’s parents are still being encouraged to use corporal punishment, storing up guilt for themselves and nightmares for their children. I have to live with both.

[71] Posted by Elliot B on 9-5-2009 at 01:20 PM · [top]

Sarah (mostly), so much to engage with, not for winning arguments but for clearing misunderstandings and all of us seeing each other as full human beings instead of straw men/women or cardboard cutouts or inflatable dolls or materialistic harpies or drooling sex maniacs.

First, thank you for speaking clearly without attacking me (and I hope you realize I was not attacking you either) in an actual listening process on what is obviously an emotionally charged issue for you, for me, and for most others.  On blogs such as Fr. Jake’s I would have been banned (I was Banned By Jake) for disagreeing with the host.  You personally have the God- given self-confidence and honesty to recognize the difference between an ad homineum attack and an honest, if sharp, disagreement with the issues you raise (not with you personally), and you got at least some of the reasons I gave for disagreeing.

We seem to be talking past each other.  Read the actual articles.  You present hypothetical outrageous straw men that are totally different from Charla’s actual offer and Brad’s actual first rejecting it in misunderstanding and second acceptance in cautious trust, and different from how the year actually worked out day by day, and different from the new depth, openness, transparency, consideration, and spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy that seem to continue for them as the lasting result.  Never was there described a sex marathon or dominant-submissive relationship.  What Charla describes from her own viewpoint (Brad was not interviewed here) is how much the other 24 minus sex-time hours in the day improved, not in a quid pro quo, but in mutual consideration and giving of self.  By committing to continuing (not essentially daily or regular or frequent) physical intimacy, they both made sure that their relationship was consistent with the prerequisite openness and vulnerability and honesty on the spiritual and emotional levels as well, in mundane as well as in special ways.  By being absolutely assured both by each other of unconditional acceptance and love (Charla didn’t have to lose weight or act the sexpot and Brad didn’t have to earn sex points or pretend only a platonic interest in Charla to prove himself worthy of lovemaking), they were both set free of the sad script we have acted out since the Fall - “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

What Brad and Charla and I daresay, you Sarah, and I, and the human race crave is intimacy with another.  God made us to crave intimacy with Him first and most of all, and appropriate intimacy with others in right relationship to Him and, consequently, to each other.  For strongly desiring/craving sexual intimacy with his wife (assuming he loves her as Christ loves His church, with sacrificial love), a husband is so often made to feel like a slavering, lecherous rapist.  Your characitures and straw men sound very much like that.  Scripture says something quite different. 
James 4:5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? (I have heard teachers who know Greek say that “jealously desires” here is actually “epithumea”, usually translated “lusts after”, but actually meaning any strong desire)
Song of Solomon 8:6   6"Put me like a seal over your heart,
      Like a seal on your arm
      For love is as strong as death,
      (Jealousy is as severe) as Sheol; (NASB says or “Its ardor is as inflexible”)
      Its flashes are flashes of fire,
      The very flame of the LORD.
as well as the rest of Song of Solomon, and the consistent theme through OT, Gospels and NT of the Church as bride to Jesus’ Bridegroom.

Sarah, I think single and married have much insight to offer each other. I value frankness with kindness and I try to return the same.  Am I making a revisionist appeal to experience trumping principle and reason by pointing out that your stated reactions are reacting to something different than the reality described in the articles?  I would find your statements much more convincing if you would respond specifically point-by-point to the article itself.  (not to sound like KH trying to get a comment thread back on track!)  You certainly heard correctly hurt sounding like anger and offense.  How was I irrational?  I trust your frankness and kindness for clarification, and I’m a big boy, I can take it. smile

Your notes 1)-4) are duly noted and display what I knew already - that you know and affirm healthy marriages and have examples of such close at hand.  Brad and Charla’s marriage seems not have started there, but now to have grown to that level, if obviously by unusual and not necessarily generally applicable means.  Charla was not inflexibly and legalisticaly prescriptive (unlike your straw man characterizations), only descriptive and suggesting general principles gained from their experience, to be applied individually adapted to individuals.

Sarah, enjoy the beautiful Saturday (I certainly plan to, it’s beautiful here in Nashville, too!) and the U. S. Open as the tennis devotee you are, and only respond when/if you’re good and ready! wink  Know that I continue to hold you in the highest respect and admiration for your articulate faithful voice in Christian witness, and in affection for your great spirit yet unmet face-to-face.

P.S. heart, I intentionally did not use Sarah’s name in previous comments because I only wanted to counter her statements, not to attack her personally.  Obviously at least one other person heard that wrongly directed at him personally.  Do you believe that I think Sarah is so slow on the uptake not to know when her comments are being addressed, or that I thought I was being sneaky?  I trusted her demonstrated character to know my comments were not an attack on her, and she obviously understood that clearly.  Perhaps you will take my comment for the apology you think I owe her.  If it was not a sufficient “apology”, I’m sure Sarah will set me straight forthrightly! wink

[72] Posted by Milton on 9-5-2009 at 01:42 PM · [top]

Well, I’m sure you’ve all been thinking “what does Catholic Mom think about this?”  OK—I agree with almost everything everybody said—including Sarah.

First of all I agree:
1.  Men need/want a lot more sex than their wives tend to realize.

2.  Men get really bummed out/turned off when they find themselves in the position of having to constantly be the one to “ask” for sex (and even worse, asking and getting told no.)

3.  Wives would be well advised to initiate sex with their husbands a lot more than they do.  (As somebody said, it’s often like exercise—maybe not your first choice of what to do at any given moment, but rewarding once you get started.)

That said, the key word is “initiate” not “submit to.”  I believe that most normal healthy men want to have sex with someone who they believe wants to have sex with them.  Therefore, the wife should not just “agree” to have sex, but make sure that on a regular basis she indicates that SHE wants sex.  But (and here’s the tricky part) I think it’s OK if she indicates that she is keen to have sex even when she really can take it or leave it.

The analogy is to the wife who feels that her husband doesn’t show enough non-sexual signs of love—hugging her affectionately, saying “I love you” maybe bringing her flowers, etc.  Now a smart husband might say “I know that this is something that’s important to my wife and I’m going to make a point to say “I love you” and show signs of affection and love even when these don’t come spontaneously to me because I know it means a lot to my wife.”  On the other hand, if the wife said “you never say you love me” and the husband said “OK, I love you” the wife would rightly say “you just said that because I said to say it.”  And she would be more annoyed than please.  So a husband handing his wife a birthday card saying “I will say I love you at least once a day for the next year” would probably be missing the point.  Go ahead and do it (say “I love you”) but don’t tell her it’s a “gift” (hence sacrifice) for you to do so—- EVEN IF IT IS.

So…deciding to try to have sex with your husband every night for a year (actually, the set time period thing IS a little creepy—what happens have that?)—potentially good idea (although probably somewhat less than that would make it more likely to be successful long term) .  TELLING him that “as a gift” you’re going to make the supreme sacrifice of having sex with him—bad idea.

And one more thing (please everybody, feel free to hate me for this) she WOULD feel sexier and have better sex if she lost those ten pounds.  Maybe a better “gift” to her husband (and herself too) would be a card that says “I promise to join a gym and get in better shape and lose 10 pounds.”  The go do it—then have more sex. smile

[73] Posted by Catholic Mom on 9-5-2009 at 03:35 PM · [top]

The most disturbing thing about this gift is that we all know about it.

[74] Posted by Paul Powers on 9-5-2009 at 04:25 PM · [top]

I did not see quite the horrible sickness that Sarah saw in the article, at least in the first part. It did sound like the wife truly wanted what was best for her husband and by extension, their marriage, and freely gave of herself sexually.

However, as the article went on, some concerning comments appeared, where she acknowleges that the last few months were a chore. Perhaps I’m splitting hairs here, but sex should never be a burden or a chore.  Sure there are times when one partner is not so into it, but perhaps as the event unfolds begins to enjoy it more. But night after night of struggle? That’s not right and a good lover and a gentleman would, I think, decline to accept such a “gift” as soon as he began to discern the pattern. He would release her from her “gift”.

It would have been better, at that point, for the couple to actually communicate (imagine that!) about what each of their needs were and where they wanted to go together as a couple.

And that brings me to my real concern with their “arrangment”. Good sex requires emotional intimacy. Making the commitment to do the physical act on schedule would seem to shift the emphasis away from the full expression of this intimacy. It risks falling into the very worldly pattern of seeing sex as a performance sport.

Lifting up a 365 day plan as an example for other couples to emulate would, it seems, tempt many towards a legalistic direction. This is a commandment of men and not of God. We don’t need any new rules for the Christian life. The apostle Paul is quite clear that couples in general should not deny each other physically, yet he fails (I think deliberately) to apply a standard regarding frequency of intercourse. There is nothing inherantly wrong with such a commitment, although it may miss God’s best for this couple (who am I to judge!).

However, I think it is fair to say that were it not for the pressures of bills, kids who won’t go to bed, unresolved anger, lack of caring for our bodies by avoiding gluttony and sloth (yes I’m talking about being overweight!), the TV (timewaster) and materialism, couples probably would have more sex and would be happier for it. Our reduced frequency of lovemaking is often a symptom of other spirtual problems and distortions.

Overall it’s good for the church to encourage couples to meet each other’s sexual needs and desires. Christians should not forget that our mates have many, many opportunities to stray sexually, perhaps more so than at any point in history.

It seems wise to keep each other happy in bed. St. Paul would approve; But let’s have full, real, intimate, Biblical sex and not think that just doing the physical deed on a schedule will improve our relationships or be more pleasing to God.

[75] Posted by Capn Jack Sparrow on 9-5-2009 at 04:30 PM · [top]

73,74 Amen and thank you!

[76] Posted by Capn Jack Sparrow on 9-5-2009 at 04:34 PM · [top]

if anyone has sex every night for a year they probably would lose 10 lbs..,

[77] Posted by sandraoh on 9-5-2009 at 05:45 PM · [top]

Catholic Mom:

Well, I’m sure you’ve all been thinking “what does Catholic Mom think about this?”

Only because Catholic Dad isn’t a registered user at Stand Firm.  Why is that?

OK—I agree with almost everything everybody said—including Sarah.

Whatever for?  She’s the one who brought up Playboy bunny suits and plastic bags.  There’s something wrong with her.

And one more thing (please everybody, feel free to hate me for this) she WOULD feel sexier and have better sex if she lost those ten pounds.

All those papal encyclicals and this is the best you can do?  “Lose ten pounds, then knock yourself out.”  What’s next, a Harlequin Romance edition of Casti Connubii?

But I can’t bring myself to hate you.  In fact, my hat goes off to those of you who engage in all the heavy lifting that goes with fulfilling your conjugal duties, not to mention having all those kids.  Somebody’s got to do it, I’m just glad it isn’t me.

And tell me again why celibacy is supposed to be challenging? 

Whenever I read the kind of stuff that’s on this thread, I always feel like I’m getting away with something.  But then, maybe I am.  cool smile

[78] Posted by episcopalienated on 9-5-2009 at 05:57 PM · [top]

sandraoh, I hadn’t thought that far.  Sounds like a plan!... wink

[79] Posted by Milton on 9-5-2009 at 06:24 PM · [top]

What an absolutely fascinating thread.  The issues here are deeply human and complex.  I don’t want to comment on any of the threads but I suggest everyone take a step back and see what kind of interplay we have here.  There is no simple answer here because it involves the deeply personal and intimate relationship between and husband and wife both of whom serve our great God.  I have found all of my first responses inadequate and fallen.  I really can’t say much more.

[80] Posted by rwkachur on 9-5-2009 at 07:53 PM · [top]

Only because Catholic Dad isn’t a registered user at Stand Firm.  Why is that?

“Catholic” Dad is an Israeli.  He hangs out over at HaAretz.com They’re probably discussing sex in Hebrew even as we type.  You know “is it true that sex with middle aged Irish Catholic women is incredibly wild and exciting?”  If only I could read Hebrew so I could see what they’re saying. smile

[81] Posted by Catholic Mom on 9-5-2009 at 08:30 PM · [top]

First of all, what Paul Powers said.  If someone decides to do this,  please don’t tell us about it.  I would say, don’t even announce it to your husband.  Just welcome him the next time, and the next time, and so on. 

Second,  I am surprised that almost no one here has expressed that sometimes it is the woman whose overtures are rejected and who is hurt by it.  Women reach their sexual peak in their mid thirties,  and some men are flagging a bit by forty,  so this can happen, especially if the man is working at a physically demanding job, or an emotionally stressful job, or is depressed, or all three, or if he is taking certain medications.  And if men fear they will not be able to “perform” they are likely to decide it is unreasonable to ask them to try,  when their wives would most likely be happy with physically expressed affection even if not associated with stellar “performance.”     

In long marriages these things can go in cycles.  Perhaps at the beginning their desires matched perfectly, and then with childbearing and nursing hers flagged somewhat, and then in early middle age, hers increased and his flagged with work stressors or undiagnosed physical problems,  then perhaps they leveled out again, at a low level,  then perhaps treatment for other medical conditions revived his interest,  and she has trouble keeping pace.  Both partners have to make an effort sometimes.  Both have to accept that sometimes the other person just can’t make that effort this time.  It is a give and take, a mutuality. 

I think that is what is so missing from this story.
Susan Peterson

[82] Posted by eulogos on 9-6-2009 at 03:20 PM · [top]

RE: “First of all, what Paul Powers said.  If someone decides to do this,  please don’t tell us about it.  I would say, don’t even announce it to your husband.  Just welcome him the next time, and the next time, and so on.”

Word to Paul Powers and Eulogos.

[83] Posted by Sarah on 9-6-2009 at 03:26 PM · [top]

I note with interest that, even as some commenters have gotten all misty-eyed about this story several have announced they’re not going to do it.

But why?

That’s odd.  I thought you preferred that married people not talk about things like that.  Is this a rhetorical question? 

Assuming it’s not… oh, lots to say about that, but here’s a few:

Think of your exercise routine. 
- Have you made a commitment to the time you do it, or to the commitment itself?
- Is that an either/or, or a both/and, question.
- Furthermore, if someone has been a relative couch-tater for five or ten years, is it as simple for him or her to “commit” to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise, every day, for a year.  Wouldn’t it be easier to work up to the 45 minutes gradually, the intensity gradually, the every-day, gradually, the other habits that go hand-in-hand with the routine… gradually? 

It’s a bit like that.  But not completely like that, since there are two people.  The “two people” aspect of it fall under the same category as home schooling.  If one spouse, e.g., isn’t into it, then it doesn’t work. 

Charla answered your question herself, btw.  She recommends to her friends that they double the frequency for six months, double it six months after that.  She doesn’t recommend every couple do what they did. 

But it’s interesting - far from flying apart at the seams, they seem to have grown as a married couple.  So, it must not have been all that evil, you know, for them.  Apparently, they weren’t smart or moral enough, to have considered your objections;  but (paradoxically) their marriage was strong enough such that no damage was realized. 

Shoot, it’s too bad that for the other silly things that can damage a marriage - the caps left off of the toothpaste, the toilet seat shenanigans, and other stuff… that the ‘stuff’ of marriage isn’t as strong for these other things. 

Oh well..  I guess a lot of things about marriage are a mystery.  wink

[84] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-7-2009 at 08:00 AM · [top]

But to answer your question myself, let me say this:

a)  I believe it is more appropriate if the woman makes the offer. 

b)  Um, a 42 year old man er .. isn’t the same man as he was when he was say, 18. 

Mullers.  Get a room, why don’t you. 
Crazy kids.

[85] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-7-2009 at 08:02 AM · [top]

Catholic Mom:

So…deciding to try to have sex with your husband every night for a year (actually, the set time period thing IS a little creepy—what happens have that?)—potentially good idea (although probably somewhat less than that would make it more likely to be successful long term) .  TELLING him that “as a gift” you’re going to make the supreme sacrifice of having sex with him—bad idea.

Somehow, I doubt that for the type of marriage that would benefit from such a pledge, that the husband would take the ‘supreme sacrifice’ language, the wrong way. 

And back to Sarah:

I note with interest that, even as some commenters have gotten all misty-eyed about this story several have announced they’re not going to do it.

But why?

Now that I remember it, I believe I mentioned the article when it first popped up here, and she asked me a question that had nothing to do with the concern about being a blow-up doll wife.  I answered ‘no,’ and we had ourselves a good laugh.

[86] Posted by J Eppinga on 9-8-2009 at 06:00 AM · [top]

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