Choreplay!

Ever heard the word? It is a combination of “chore” and “foreplay.” The idea is that if you do enough tasks for the refusing cheater, he/she will eventually feel like having sex.

If you have been married to a refusing cheater for any length of time, you are probably very familiar with this dynamic. The refused spouse will make a comment about how he/she is not satisfied with the frequency or quality of sex in the marriage, and in response, the refusing cheater will say that if the refused spouse would just bring flowers, make compliments, do housework, get breast implants, be sexier, try something new, etc., then the refusing cheater might feel like having sex more often or in the manner requested.

At first, the refused spouse is overjoyed! He/she now has the key to unlocking the sexuality of the refusing cheater and will finally be fulfilled. All he/she has to do is to complete the list that the refusing cheater has constructed, and he/she will be sexually fulfilled!

So the refused spouse gets to work. He/she dutifully completes each item on the list. As one item is completed, he/she looks to the refusing cheater to see if sex is going to happen. However, he/she is met with looks of disdain or disapproval. So the refused spouse works harder. He/she gets every item on the list done and is finally rewarded with sex! Even if it is not enthusiastic and fulfilling, it is better than no sex at all. Now the refused spouse understands. All he/she has to do is to continue to complete the items on the list! This will work!

However, after a while, he/she finds that the list has changed. And worse, the list was changed without the refusing cheater notifying the refused spouse that it changed. The refusing cheater just refuses, and when the refused spouse asks why, the refusing cheater just says that there are other tasks the refused spouse must complete before being blessed with sex. The refused spouse becomes disappointed again.

But the refused spouse trudges on. Every day, he/she checks with the refusing cheater to see more tasks have been added. Sometimes, sex happens, and sometimes, it does not. At some point the refused spouse is frustrated and asks why sex is not happening when the tasks are being completed. The refusing cheater then responds that the tasks were not done flawlessly, or that the refused spouse did the tasks with the wrong attitude. Then the refusing cheater will accuse the refused spouse of only doing the tasks for sex. The refused spouse then scratches his/her head in confusion.

What has happened here is called a conditioned response. The refusing cheater was able to shape the refused spouse’s behavior by using behavior modification. By using sex as the reward, then insisting on new and different behaviors to achieve the reward, the refusing cheater was able to get the refused spouse to perform just like a trained sea lion.

Fortunately, human beings are more intelligent than trained sea lions. After a while, the refused spouse may begin to realize that he/she has been manipulated into performing tasks on demand. Then resentment begins to creep in. And if the manipulation continues, the refused spouse may decide that enough is enough. It is very similar to a trained elephant who finally realizes that he/she is stronger than any chains that the trainer can use to restrain him or her. The refused spouse is likely to break his/her bonds and do whatever it takes to get away from the refusing cheater.

As always, if you want to hear about the dangers of sexual refusal in marriage, stay away from any church because you will never hear about it there.

Is It About Control?

So if you have read a lot of my blog, or other writings about the refusing cheater, this may have occurred to you. This may sound really shocking, but the spouse who wants sex the least is in the position to be in total control of the sexual relationship. Seems kind of strange, doesn’t it? But it many marriages, it is very true.

The spouse with the higher libido lives at the mercy of the lower libido spouse. Unless, of course, the higher libido spouse forces the issue, but this is very rare in marriages that last longer than a few years. The HL spouse has to hope that when he/she initiates, that the LL spouse will finally be in the mood. But if the LL spouse is not in the mood, the HL spouse is in for disappointment.

So the HL spouse is constantly wondering if he/she will be rejected. The HL spouse has a legitimate need that should be fulfilled in marriage, but has no control over when or if it will ever be met. If the LL spouse is a caring, giving person, the HL spouse is very fortunate because the LL spouse will want to see the partner fulfilled.

However, if the LL spouse is not a giving person, or has any manipulative characteristics at all, the HL spouse is going to be living a nightmare. The LL spouse can control the HL spouse by doling out sexual contact at limited times, and only under limited circumstances. The LL spouse can only have sex when he/she wants and if the HL spouse does not comply with the prerequisites, then the HL spouse will be left out in the cold.

And if the HL spouse does not comply with the demands of the LL spouse, then he/she will be accused of being “insensitive” or “uncaring.” The LL spouse can then use these accusations against the HL spouse to further limit any sexual interaction. And when sexual interactions do occur, the LL spouse can characterize him/herself as very “giving” because he/she is willing to engage in sex even though the HL spouse is such an insensitive/uncaring person.

So the downward cycle will continue until the HL spouse is beaten down to the point where he/she will do ANYTHING for the distant hope that the LL spouse will drop just a simple crumb of sexual contact. The HL spouse is very angry and resentful, but he/she hides his/her resentment for fear of being completely and total cut off from all sex by the all-powerful LL spouse.

After several years of this, one of two things happens. Either the HL spouse becomes a shell of a person, with anger spilling out at inopportune times, or the HL spouse finally realizes that the LL spouse only has the power that the HL spouse has given him/her, and takes it back by leaving or finding someone else. At that time the LL spouse will claim total surprise and innocence, saying he/she has just been the best spouse he/she can, and had no idea why the other spouse had enough.

As usual, don’t hold your breath waiting to hear this in any church, because it will never be said.

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.