Recently, Fox News featured an article posted on ScaryMommy.com entitled, “The Night I Gave my Husband a Free Pass” You can read the article here (warning, not a family friendly site / author and lots of swearing) For those that don’t want read the article, the jist is below. My response was featured (in a slightly edited form) recently on To Love, Honor and Vacuum (a great resource for all things marriage and married sex related) 😉
For those who would like to read the full response, grab a cup of coffee and just let your fingers do the scrolling.
Here’s the gist of the original article
She thinks they have a great marriage. They’re good friends, they parent well together, they do stuff together. But she has no libido, and making love when she doesn’t feel like it is degrading and gross, she says. And she doesn’t understand why sex has to be a part of marriage. It all seems so silly. Why give up a perfectly good relationship just because the sex isn’t there? So her solution is this: he can have an affair or use a prostitute, it’s honestly okay with her. In fact, she’d appreciate it because then he’d stop bothering her and they could go on with their real lives together! Her husband does not take her up on it (smart guy) so she is relieved and happy that she can ignore sex for the next few years and know he will still be there waiting for her.
The comments section for this read like an all out war between the sexes has started, but no one really got to the core of the issue. Becuase I like to say the things other people are afraid to, I felt the need to chime in.
So here is my response. (note I did get ahold of the original author, and she said thought there was some good insight there and would seriously consider my suggestions) She is a pretty funny lady who also like to call it like she sees it. You can find her blog here at Misguided Mama.
Wow! I read your article and all 70 comments. Thank you for opening up a discussion about this. I realize that it probably started as just venting your frustration and that there are a lot more dynamics to your marriage than just what is shown in this article, and while it is a testament to how understanding your husband is, it is really sad to hear all of the pain and frustration (on both sides of the fence) going on. I appreciate your honesty, and your husband sounds like a pretty normal guy. As you have seen, you are far from alone in your situation. For you and your readers, please let me share some insight from 25 years (and counting) of marriage. (And know that none of this is meant to attack you in any way – please read to the end and you will see my heart)
I can Identify with where you are coming from. My wife has been through a lot of health issues, including cancer + complications which necessatated having a masectomy with no reconstruction and a year of chemo causing the loss of all of her hair and weight gain due to the drugs she was on, so plenty of body issues to go around there. (She has been cancer free for over 7 years now, which we are very thankful for) We also have a whole herd of mouths to feed and chores to do, active businesses in addition to outreach and counseling. We have had our ups and downs in the sex department, with all of the obligitory fights and start-overs and it continues to be an ongoing challenge. I like most husbands am pretty lousy at communicating in this arena. That being said we love each other very much and neither of us has ever cheated. I still am just as attracted to her as the day we met. We both have a strong faith and relationship with God which makes a difference through the hard times.
So, here are seven insights that I hope will help you and your readers: (disclamimer: this is advice from the point of a “normal” marriage. If you are in a relationship that is physically abusive, or your spouse is unfaithful, addicted to drugs/gambling/etc… seek help about protecting yourself)
1) Your husband is a smart guy. While I have often thought that if prostitution was moral and legal it would make marriage easier for all the reasons you described, that’s not the way we were designed. It’s abusive to women involved in the industry, soul crushing to all involved and would be toxic to your relationship and kids. (just imagine trying to explain to your kids why daddy got arrested for soliciting a prostitue, or when his sugar baby shows up on your doorstep telling you that you should divorce him because you can’t make him happy like she does) So like your husband says, it’s not sex he wants, it’s sex with you, the woman he loves and would lay down his life for. It is a spiritual connection between two people that have committed thier lives to each other, and there is no other place he can get that, everything else is just a counterfeit. Right now in your frustration you don’t think it would bother you if he slept with another woman, but once he did… different story. Even if it is not “cheating” to you, it would be “cheating” to him, which would come with the shame, guilt, confusion, etc… that goes along with it. If you really feel that this would not be the case, then maybe you should consider a polygamous marriage. (Which is not accepted by most cultures, and has its own set of issues. Your husband is probably too smart to go that route as well.)
2) You are too busy. You said it yourself. No woman is going to feel in the mood after beign sleep deprived from taking care of the kids, cleaning the house and working a (full/part time?) job. So make some changes! You said your husband would not mind if you hired a cleaning service, or ate take out a few nights a week. Do it! Get some help, hire a sitter, take some “me” time, go to the spa, have lunch with a friend. (hopefully thinking about the fact that your husband loves you enough to do this means it will be followed by some “us” time) If you feel guilty about leaving your kids with a sitter, reduce your hours at work or quit your job) See, your husband understands what is important. He can hire someone to clean, cook and babysit, but you are the only person that can make him feel loved, appreciated and connected to. If he were to go to a prostitue twice a week (most husbands would be fine or even thrilled with sex 2-3 times a week) it would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $300-$700/week. A couple thousand a month goes a long way towards help around the house. (For you ladies, try telling your husband that you need to hire someone to help around the house so you can focus on having more sex with him and see how fast he finds room in the budget for it) Ten years from now your kids aren’t going to care if you personally did not scrub the kitchen floor, they will care if they had a father that was angry and depressed most of the time.
3) Sex is not just physical. Sex makes your husband feel loved, cared for, respected and connected to you. It is how he knows that he is important to you, and it is not just the physical act. He draws self esteem and happiess from the fact that you desire him, and that he can still “ring your bell”. When he sees you spend countless hours on the house, the kids, your job, he knows that those things are very important to you by the fact you give your precious time and energy to them. He appreciates the fact that you do them, but it does not make him feel loved. (any more than the cleaning service, waitress or guy that changes his oil makes him feel loved) When you can’t make 30-45 minutes a week to meet his physical needs, or make it seem like an undesireable chore, you tell him that his real place on your list is somewhere below vaccuming and changing dirty diapers. If he doesn’t get that respect from you, he is going to be tempted to get it from somewhere else. Even if he does not act on it, you are putting him in the battle every day, which is hurtful. (You have to understand that when he is in the checkout line at the grocery, every magazine headline tells him that not only is every other woman in the world except for his wife completely sex-obsessed, but they are studying in their off hours on how to get better at it) No matter how many times you say you love him, your actions say different. Now a note here, if you have lost respect for your husband because of something he is or has done, then you need to address and resolve it. If you do not love and respect your husband, your kids will not either, which will open them up to a whole slew of issues.
4) You are making it more difficult / stressful than it needs to be. Stop being so hard on yourself. Husbands are actually pretty easy to keep happy. To make his wife happy, your husband has to be a breadwinner, a mentor, example and loving father to your kids, plan for the future, maintain the mechanics of the house and vehicles, have good ears to attentively listen to your hopes, dreams, etc… be understanding of your moods and struggles, a shoulder to cry on and to be a wall of protection between your family and an ever increasingly crazy world. The effort to make your husband happy involves ten minutes of physical activity that ends with you occasionally having screaming orgasms. (I’ve often said to my wife after she has a particularly strong climax, “Why would you not want to do that every day?”) Not that every single time it has to be “mind blowing”. We know that sometimes you are not it the mood, and do it anyways and we appreciate it. (just don’t make it seem like a chore, otherwise we feel just as rejected as if you said no) There is “maintenance sex” and then there is “roll around in the bed romantic hot and heavy sex” and lots in between, but it is all good to us. Don’t get hung up on your performance, just enjoy it. We want you to have a good time. (but if we know that you are sneaking in a quickie just because you want to make us feel loved and appreciated, our world is just as rocked)
5) It is about quantity as much as quality. Men need sex on a regular basis. Women like it to happen organically, but when you are married with kids, that is darn near impossible. You don’t “spontaneously” take your kids to soccer practice, or wait until you are in the mood to take them to school or feed them. My wife made a chart once to show examples how my anger and resentment were not at all a turn on, but being thoughtful and kind first and helping out around the house, and then doing romantic things moved her closer to the place where she felt loved and connected and desired intimacy. I found it to be helpful, but it also struck me that for men, it works 180 degrees opposite. When we have just been intimate, we feel loved, connected, we want to help out around the house, buy you flowers, and show kindness. After its been a couple of days, we feel less connected, especially if we have been rejected in between. By the time a week has gone by we feel unappreciated, confused and frustrated. Two weeks and we feel taken for granted, resentful and angry. Longer and we are distant, despondent and depressed. (even if we hide it) So stop the cycle. Schedule a date night every week or two (which does not have to include sex), but also schedule time for intamacy. Get away for a weekend every other month. (if you look at it as something to look forward to, the anticipation may even help with your mood about it) Don’t underestimate the power of a good “quickie”, or if you do not have any religous or moral hangups about it, some occasional lipstick on the dipstick is a lot less time consuming. (and puts you in the super-wife hall of fame in his book)
6) It is the best thing for your kids. I am going to say something that you are not going to agree with, but it is true. Your husband is more important than your kids. He is the one you chose, the one you made a covenant with. Your kids are going to grow up and leave you and start families of their own. He is going to be with you for the rest of your life. The greatest gift you can give your children is a father that is respected, loved, happy and connected to the family. And you are the one with the power to make it so. If you show him by your actions that your kids are more important to you than he is, he will resent them (although he will never tell you that) and you as well.
7) Fix it now. I can tell that you love your husband and that he is a decent guy. That much is obvious. Let me paint two scenarios.
In scenario #1, you take some part of my advice and choose to show him that love through physical affection. (which isn’t just sex, holding hands, hugging and “real” kisses are just as important) Your husband is stress free and happy, involved with the kids, prizes you above all else, and the two of you live a long and fulfilling life.
In scenario #2, you continue for the next 3 to 5 years saying “sex just isn’t important right now I will get to it later” which says to your husband, “you are just not important to me right now, I will get to you later”. He becomes resentful, angry and depressed. He tries to hide it, but becomes more distant. You have sex every once in a while, but it is mechanical and unfulfilling. Eventually he just gives up. Your kids grow up with a father that is physically or emotionally absent. He finds reasons to work late and hobbies that isolate him from the family. Maybe one day he takes you up on your “free pass”, but by then he sees that “free pass” as a one way ticket out of a relationship that he does not get anything out of. Or maybe he sticks around and becomes bitter and emasculated, you never say a kind word to each other, you start sleeping in separate rooms, he becomes addicted to porn (not becuase he thinks other women are prettier than you, but becuase he is captivated by the fact that some women appear to still desire and enjoy sex). If he doesn’t leave or die early from stress/depression, then by the time the kids are out of the house and you finally have “time for sex”, you hate each other and are so far apart that without divine intervention you either get divorced “now that the kids are gone” or spend the rest of your life making each other miserable because it is all you know how to do.
I am hoping that you opt for scenario #1. If you do, it is on you to implement it. Don’t sit down and have a big talk about it. (because I am guessing you’ve had several of those in the past, it got better for a couple weeks and then went right back to the status quo, or the pressure got to you and there was another big fight) As the saying goes. Just do it. There will be ups and downs, life will happen in between and it everything will be ok, because you will have a happy husband by your side, to help, protect, provide and take on the world with you.