But What About…?

I don’t know about all sexless marriages, but I heard this kind of thing many times from my refusing cheater:
1) What if I got sick and couldn’t have sex?
2) What if I was physically unable to have sex?
3) You just married me for sex!

Do you notice any commonalities in the above three items? There may be many, but the one that seems to stick out to me is that each of the three totally ignores the fact that the refusing cheater is depriving the refused spouse of a normal and reasonable expectation of marriage, and shifts the blame to the refused spouse.

Because none of the above items are questions, I am going to refer to them as statements. Assume that each statement is in response to the refused spouse’s expression of being disappointed at the lack of sex in the marriage…

“What if I got sick and couldn’t have sex?”

This statement deflects the issue, which is the lack of sex, and brings up a totally unrelated topic. If sickness is the issue, then the first thing to do is to see a doctor and take all steps to resolve the sickness. However, because sickness is not the issue, it is a blatant attempt to shift the focus of the problem onto the refused spouse. What the refusing cheater is doing is very telling. He/she is making it clear that he/she does not care about the refused spouse’s feelings and will not discuss them.

“What if I was physically unable to have sex?”

Again, the “what if” statement that begins this rhetorical question clearly shows that a physical condition is NOT the reason for the refusal. Why would the refusing cheater even bring this up? Simply because the refusing cheater is trying to shift the focus from his/her negative behavior to an imagined shortcoming of the refused spouse. IF this was the issue, then the condition needs to be confirmed by a doctor, and all medical solutions need to be explored. Unless this has been done, saying this is irrelevant.

“You just married me for sex!”

This is the most insidious of all the three comments. It completely ignores and degrades the refused spouse’s need for sexual fulfillment. Beyond that, it accuses the refused spouse of being uncaring because he/she is requesting the fulfillment of a legitimate expectation of marriage. It is also a judgment by the refusing cheater on the refused spouse. The refusing cheater is implying that if the refused spouse married with the expectation of sex, that there is something wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with expecting sex in marriage, and there is something wrong with a person who things that this expectation is wrong.

If you are a refusing cheater, you should stop making these kinds of statements if you want to preserve your marriage.

When Is It Enough?

I am just writing a note about my situation. I have been separated from my refusing cheater for over 7 months now. I still enjoy being able to come home and know that there is no way I will be yelled at or berated in any way. I am able to do much better at work, and my friends have commented that I seem so much happier and content. I am exercising regularly, and I feel so much better.

So you may be asking what the problem is. For some reason, I am having a hard time telling my lawyer to go ahead & get the divorce filed. He is a very good person, and a very good friend. His charges are very reasonable, and I know he will be able to resolve the divorce quickly. But I still find myself being hesitant. I have seen my refusing cheater on a few occasions, and she has been fairly pleasant, but the sight of her still puts my stomach in knots. It is the same feeling I used to get before going out onto the football field knowing that I was about to get into a physical confrontation.

I have had the chance to discuss my situation with many friends, both male and female. When I tell them about the forced celibacy and verbal abuse, all of them, without exception, are appalled and cannot believe that I stayed with my refusing cheater for so long. I also spoke to a long time good friend who told me that I just have too much compassion to let go easily.

But then a friend suggested that I consider attending a Codependent’s Anonymous group. There is one in the town where I live, and I went for the first time last weekend. It really made a huge impact on me. I am starting to realize that my refusing cheater can only affect me if I let her. I already knew this intellectually, but I am starting to realize it emotionally. I just have to work through my hesitance to finalize things and let her go.

As usual, don’t expect to ever hear from a pulpit that when you have had enough abuse from a spouse, it is ok to walk away.

The Progression of a Sexless Marriage

I was thinking of how a person ends up in a sexless marriage. When someone gets married, he/she assumes that he/she will be sexually monogamous. That is a given, you know, “forsaking all others” but the marriage vows do not explicitly state that the marriage will include sex. My refusing cheater was always quick to point this out. However, the vast majority of people understand that a marriage SHOULD include sex. When a person agrees to be married, he/she is signing up for monogamy, not celibacy.

However, prior to the wedding, no one tells there intended spouse that he/she intends to withhold sex. This could be for one of two reasons:
1) The prospective spouse does not know that he/she will not be withholding sex, or
2) The prospective spouse knows that he/she will be withholding sex, but keeps that a secret because he/she knows that the other prospective spouse will not go forward with the marriage knowing that sex will be withheld.

So let’s say that the sex does not work out on the honeymoon. What does the refused spouse do? I have talked about this with friends, and they have told me that they would immediately get on a plane, go home, and have the marriage annulled as soon as possible. However, most people are not that harsh, and want to think the best of another person. So we just suck it up and hope that things will get better.

When the marriage continues, the refused spouse may have sex on an infrequent basis, and may even bring up the fact that he/she is not being sexually satisfied. Because that is what one is supposed to do if he/she is not happy in the marriage, right? Talking about a problem with one’s spouse and trying to come to a solution is what virtually every marriage guru preaches.

However, with a sexually refusing spouse, things are different. The sexually refused spouse tends to somewhat listen to complaints, at first, but he/she will then turn the situation around and explain to the refused spouse that the source of the problems lies with the behavior of the refused spouse. At first, the refused spouse accepts responsibility and tries to make the desired changes, but the marriage remains sexless or virtually sexless.

So then the refused may ask the refusing cheater why things have not improved. The refusing cheater will then offer the same excuses. When the refused spouse points out that he/she has been implementing the suggested changes, the refusing cheater will say that the refused spouse implemented the changes with the wrong attitude, or that he/she forgot to do some other things that were never mentioned.

So the refused spouse is continually trying to hit a moving target, always trying and being told that he/she has just fallen short of the required performance to earn sex from the refusing cheater. No matter how hard the refused spouse tries, the refusing cheater will further explain that he/she really wants to have sex, but the refused spouse has just not performed to the level required to deserve the great honor of having sex with the refusing cheater.

This will go on and on for many years, and the refused spouse will continually feel worse and worse about himself/herself. He/she might still try to arouse the refusing cheater sometimes, but the pain of rejection makes it harder and harder for the refused spouse to take the risk of being rejected again.

Maybe the refused spouse simply shuts off his/her sexuality after years of rejection, and just resigns him/herself to a life of celibacy. Or maybe he/she starts to realize that he/she does not deserve to be treated this way any more. Then he/she decides to take action. This is the beginning of the end of a poor excuse for a marriage.

Fixing the Refused Spouse…

Sorry, I was kidding about the headline. I am not really going to write about how to fix the refused spouse. This is because in the vast majority of cases, when a spouse, either a wife or a husband, expresses the concern that his/her sexual needs are not being met, he/she is immediately told what he/she could do differently.

This is really quite puzzling, and becomes more so when you compare it to other basic human needs. Let me explain further.

Abraham Maslow was one of the pioneers of psychology. The main thing he is known for is his hierarchy of needs. His list of needs is typically presented in the form of a pyramid, much like the well-known food pyramid. The needs are listed below, with the most basic needs listed first:
1. Biological and Physiological needs
2. Safety needs
3. Love and belongingness needs
4. Esteem needs
5. Self-Actualization needs

His theory, which I very much agree with, is that a person cannot try to meet his/her more complex needs until the more basic needs are met. This really makes sense because a person who does not have enough food to eat will not really care about his/her self-esteem or self-actualization because he or she is focused on survival.

This is really illustrated when a person has been hiking in the desert. If anyone has lived in a place where it rained 6-8 inches a year, he/she can really understand this. When a person has been outside in July when the temperature is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, he/she can really understand thirst. So after being outside for any length of time, all that person can think of is getting some water, and will take the first opportunity. That person will then start drinking as fast as he/she can to satisfy that thirst.

Another illustration would be a one-week trip to Paris. That might sound wonderful to someone who works in a white-collar job, but how would it sound to a single mother who supports herself and two children on a minimum-wage job? She might enjoy the trip, but who would keep her children? She might enjoy the time off, but would her job still be there when she got back? A few days in a hotel might be nice, but she still has to worry about paying rent and bills as soon upon her return. Frankly, she would probably rather just have the cash to use for her survival.

Now, imagine that you see a person who is starving. This person has the thin arms, thin legs, and swollen belly of malnutrition. Imagine seeing the person sitting in the dirt, holding his hand out, begging for any scrap of food or money. As you watch this person, you are moved with compassion, and feel you have to help. So you approach this person and say, “If you would get up off your lazy ass and work, you would not be starving!” Then you walk away with righteous indignation. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

Well, guess what Maslow includes in the most basic needs? That is correct! Sex!! So what does that mean? Well, it means that until a person’s sexual needs are met, that person is not going to be able to focus on the more complex needs.

However, sex is the one need that very few people think is essential. So even though the sex drive is one of the strongest instinctual needs that all humans have, it is the least valued. Instead, a person, male or female, who expresses that his/her sexual needs are unmet and that he/she is in pain because of this void in his/her life is completely devalued. Not only is that person’s pain ignored, but that person is viewed as a pathetic loser. And if that person is married, he/she is viewed as a complete moron. My guess is that the people who feel this way about a refused spouse have never been sexually refused for any length of time.

So what is that person told if he/she asks for help with this essential need? He/she is told that he/she has done something wrong, that he/she should try harder, be nicer, and try to be more attractive. What is even worse is that the person who is telling this sexually starved person these things is the spouse. Yes, the person who promised to have and hold the sexually starved person for a lifetime is holding exactly what the starving person desperately needs right in front of him/her. It just like a three year old child who will hold a piece of bacon just out of a puppy’s reach, and when the puppy jumps to get the bacon, the child pulls it away. Now what would we say if we saw a child doing this to a puppy? We would scold the child, and tell him/her to stop teasing the poor dog.

But a spouse who will constantly withhold sex from a sexually starving person is never told this. Instead, the starving person is told that he/she should be nicer, be sexier, do wonderful things for the refusing cheater in hopes that eventually, the refuser will someday think about maybe having sex with the starving person at some point. So the refusing spouse is essentially told that it is fine to continue making the refused spouse jump for the bacon.

So why is this essential marriage issue NEVER discussed in any church? I have no idea, but maybe on judgment day, God will ask some pastors/preachers/ministers/ priests.

How to Handle a Sexless Marriage.

I have been thinking that I have really not given much advice here about how to resolve a sexless marriage. So if you are in a sexless marriage, I am going to tell you what I think you should do.

1. What if I am refused on the wedding night?

There is a James Dobson book where he suggests that instead of actually having sex on the wedding night, that a new couple should just try hugging and holding each other all night, and wait for another night to try sex for the first time. This is complete bullshit. No one should ever suggest this, implement this, or accept this.
Typically, a young girl will spend thousands of dollars on a dress, a venue, a cake, and all kinds of things getting ready for a wedding. She and her mother or other family member will spend months thinking about and planning every single detail of the wedding. Yet, many young girls actually expend no time or effort thinking or considering what SHOULD happen on the wedding night. SEX should happen on the wedding night. Period. End of story.

Assuming that the couple has abstained from sex before the wedding, the young groom has a reasonable expectation that he will be having sex on his wedding night. Yes, it is true that there are some young men who will not expect sex that night, but they are the exceptions, not the rule. It is the same for the both spouses. His bride should be able to expect to have sex on her wedding night. It is just as wrong for him to refuse his bride.

So what if the bride or groom makes the conscious decision to refuse to have sex at the first opportunity? That new spouse has just told the other spouse that he/she DOES NOT LOVE HIM/HER!!! Sex is a reasonable expectation in marriage. If your spouse refuses sex with you at the first opportunity, then he/she DOES NOT LOVE YOU!!! At this point, you have a decision to make. This issue is not going to improve.

In my opinion, if your spouse refuses you on the wedding night, you should immediately pack your things and get away from him/her. Go to a lawyer and have the marriage annulled. You will save yourself years of heartache. If you want to give him/her another chance during the honeymoon, go ahead, but I doubt if things will get better. Yes, I know this is harsh, but refusing sex on the wedding night should NEVER happen!! Did I say NEVER? I meant NEVER, EVER, EVER!!!

2. What if I am refused before I have children or a house/mortgage?

If the sex begins dropping off quickly, this should be a huge red flag. Most couples should have sex often, really often, a minimum of 3 times a week. If this is not happening, there is something wrong. But the truth is if you are not having sex as much as you want or need, your spouse should want to come to an agreement.

First, you should bring up the subject. Tell your spouse in a very nice way that you are not having sex as much as you would like, and see what he/she says. A normal spouse will be concerned and want to resolve the problem. However, if he/she does not, that is a very clear message that your spouse does not love you. About 15 years ago, I told my refusing cheater that it would be nice if we could have sex 3 times a week. She said, in a very disgusted voice, “You can just forget about that!”

If your spouse is that openly antagonistic to your concerns, your next step is clear. If you don’t have kids or a house, there is nothing to hold you to that refusing cheater. Also, if your spouse does not improve, your next step is just as clear. Anyone who will not try to resolve sexual problems in a marriage does NOT want to be married. In either case, it is time for a divorce. Find a lawyer, and file for divorce. With no kids, you will never have to see your refusing cheater ever again.

3. What if I have kids and/or a house?

This is the situation where many refused spouses find themselves. They are sexually unfulfilled, yet they have a mortgage on a home, or even worse, they have children with the refusing cheater. This is a very very difficult situation. At this point the refused spouse has realized that the refusing cheater is NOT going to change, but the refused spouse now has kids who need parenting, or a mortgage that must be paid.

First of all, you may have a house but no kids. In this case, it will not be easy to get a divorce, but it is very feasible. Tell you spouse you need sex on a regular basis or the marriage is over. I would suggest giving him/her a reasonable amount of time, but no more than one year. If he/she does not change, hire an attorney, sell the house, and get a divorce. It won’t be easy, but it can be done and you will be done with your refusing cheater.

But what if you have kids with your refusing cheater? So what is the solution here? Well, it is very complicated. Again, you should tell the refusing cheater that you are not satisfied with sex in the marriage, and you want things to change. Then allow a reasonable time for a change, but no more than one year. Then if the refusing cheater does not change, you can take the next step.

The refused spouse really has to choose between living in a sexless marriage or getting a divorce. Of course, there is the option of an open marriage, but a person who is selfish enough to refuse sex to his or her spouse is certainly not going to allow you to seek fulfillment elsewhere. So you have to be celibate or divorce.

Can you live in celibacy forever? Maybe. Unfortunately, if you deny your sexuality for a long time, you are going to be affected. We are all sexual creatures, so denying that part of yourself is not going to be good in the long term. You can do it, but you will certainly be changed. So if that is the route you choose, I hope it works out for you.

As for divorcing with minor children, this will be hard. Raising kids is really hard when there are two parents who get along, but raising kids when the parents are divorced is even harder, but it can be done.

But still, you have a choice. You can divorce while the kids are still at home, or you can wait until they are grown.

As for waiting, I can tell you that it is hell waiting until the kids are grown. Denying your sexuality for years while they grow up will really affect you in a negative way. Your self esteem will really suffer, and you will definitely lose part of yourself. But you will provide a somewhat stable home for your children, and you will develop a huge amount of patience. And when you do divorce, your children and your spouse will be really surprised.

But if you divorce while they are young, you will be disrupting the lives of your children quite a bit. You can prepare for a custody battle, and it will cost more than you can imagine. When it is done, your refusing cheater will probably use the kids against you, and he/she will still fight you over many assorted subjects. However, you will have some youth left, and you will have a chance to remarry.

So what is the answer? There is no clear answer. In my case, I waited until the kids were grown, and I tried even more until my refusing cheater made it clear that she was never going to change. There were positives and negatives about this, and there is no way to know what would have happened if I had divorced sooner.

Just think, all of this heartache might have been avoided if some preacher had just made it a point to talk about the sin and devastation of sexual refusal in marriage.