Without a deeper purpose, I would be the last one to stand in line, to hang all my dirty laundry out for the world to see. Especially if the laundry is all on the line, and I feel I’m left hiding behind semi-transparent sheets. It’s a vulnerable feeling. But the private messages from you, my readers, and general response the past two days reassured me again that it is the right thing to do. There is a purpose.
I received a negative response from one individual–and it wasn’t particularly up-building, so it landed in file 13, and it is only the third negative response I have received since starting my blog. All in all, I would say the topic material is received in a positive light, and helpful for many. Thank you for sharing with me. You have no idea how much that encourages me when I’m going places, publicly, where I have rarely ventured even with counsellors or friends. Many of you understand both my battle, and how I feel, as you express your own fear of commenting publicly, because of that vulnerability.
Thank you for being sensitive, not only because I have overcome abuse and violence, but also as a writer, when I put my heart out there. I am convinced I have the most amazing audience in the world!
Everyone experiences rejection, on some level, in marriage, whether real, or perceived. With abuse victims there is often an increased sensitivity to rejection, and this sensitivity also means more perceived rejections.
What fascinates me is how much we hear about men being the ones with the high libido, and therefore the ones who are often rejected by women. I’ve heard it in pretty much every marriage event I’ve attended. When I invite them to conferences, I’ve had women say, “If I hear one word about men and their high libido, I will up and walk out. I am so tired of no one addressing the other side of that”, and similar comments.
Meeting with women, and working through marriage issues with them, I can count on two hands the amount of times I’ve heard the complaint that ‘all he ever wants is sex’. Or ‘I wish he would just keep his hands off of me!’ And the few times I’ve heard it, it has usually been accompanied by, “I wish he would pay attention to me other times too. Then I would love his advances in bed”, or things of that nature. The exception is in the case where husbands ‘grab and grope’ but otherwise put no effort into relationship building or healthy non-sexual physical touch. This is a source of deep frustration for women. Most of them feel disrespected, and neglected on many levels.
I am convinced that, a high percentage of the time, women do not have a lower libido than men. We crave relational attention, communication, affection and non-sexual cuddling apart from the bedroom scene. If we feel loved, valued and accepted, the odds are… Never mind, gentlemen…. Do your math…
What I do hear, constantly, are women who feel neglected both in bed and out of bed. Not only do these women tell me that the relational and communication aspect is lacking, but their husbands don’t initiate intimacy, and reject them when they initiate it. The topic of sexual intimacy is not up for discussion, leaving these marriages vulnerable and shaky, with literally months, if not years, without sexual intimacy.
The women who tell me their husbands are not interested in sex, are not an indication that women generally have a higher libido, or that we’ve been misled by statistics. It simply indicates that more men shut down sexually in marriage, whether due to sexual sin, childhood sexual abuse, addictions or other reasons, than most of us are led to believe.
This needs to be addressed because the women, who feel rejected, battle shame and inferiority. They are hesitant to open their hearts and talk openly about their struggle, not wanting to admit that their husbands don’t find them attractive. (Just like every girl in high school wishes she was the prettiest, every wife wants to be attractive and the apple of her husband’s eye. To admit to another woman that she is sexually rejected and relationally neglected is a very difficult and humiliating thing.)
Each one worries that either she is not beautiful, or maybe her husband is having an affair, or into pornography or masturbation. Some know that is the case, but feel lost and dis-empowered. Not knowing how to impact the marriage for good, they suffer in silence. Others walk out on marriages, without a backward glance.
Yet other women admit to turning to pornography, emotional affairs and masturbation, as a source of fulfilment, while continuing in cold, distant cohabitation. They are afraid or unwilling to broach the subject of their struggles with husbands, who, in some cases, are into the same thing. When I hear these ‘confessions’ it’s usually accompanied by, “I’ve never told anyone that before. Please don’t tell anyone.”
This rejection of each other, and ultimately God’s plan, along with the silence and secrecy, is detrimental to marriage, to the family unit and God’s kingdom. Every woman wants to be pursued first outside of the bedroom, at a heart level, and then celebrate that connection through intimacy in bed. I think that every man, based on those we have talked to and read about, wants his wife to think he is an amazing lover, but he also longs to be built up, believed in, and encouraged in day to day life.
Somehow the vicious cycle of rejection starts in the little things we overlook, because of a lack of communication and generally misunderstanding each other. It snowballs, because of our pain and selfishness and leaves many a marriage shipwrecked unnecessarily.
The key is to get help sooner than later. To ignore it will build up walls of self-protection until eventually, the relationship is all but severed. Wise counsel and a listening ear from someone who understands is crucial in order to end the cycle.
In the past few days many of you have contacted me, asking for connections to counsellors, or looking for guidance. If I have not yet responded, I will. And if you have not had the courage to email, but would like help finding a counsellor, mentor or resource, please don’t hesitate. (Visit the Contact Trudy page, and fill out the form. It is private and will only show in my email inbox, not on the website.) We were not created to do this alone, and if I have connections in your area, I will do my best to connect you to someone.
© Trudy Metzger
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A very relate-able post. Even my relatively normal childhood (low-level dysfunction) has left me vulnerable to sometimes perceiving my dear husband’s innocent remarks as rejection. The longer we’re married, the more secure I am in his unconditional love, and the less often that happens. But the enemy definitely knows where the defenses are weak!
Thank you for that, Lanita. It stand to reason that even those who come from good homes, are human and feel rejected–whether real or perceived. I like how you say ‘the longer we’re married, the more secure I am in his unconditional love’. It is to your credit that you are honest and open with each other, so that this confidence is built. Many struggle to go there. Bless you both!
The difference between men and women will never be cured because it is not a disease. The difference should be a cause of celebration and exploration.
Yes! The differences bring balance to the marriage, when honoured and the needs are met, rather than judged or rejected. Thank you Harvey!