The following is an excerpt from an email sent to me from a former client. She is a woman in her 50’s. She has been married to the same man her whole adult life. She came to see me with great trepidation. She feared her husband would be very upset with her. She is a strong LDS woman who was feeling…well, I will let her describe it.
“I just wanted to thank you again. Life is going good but things need to be remembered and reading your sight is very helpful. I wondered if you could also go into abuses by the husband to get more sex. The nature of things I went through. Like shunning and ignoring until the desired responses are met. A controlling husband making the wife feel used not loved and he can only love her when she does what he thinks is right or what he wants to gratify himself. In other words she must love first and give him all he needs satisfying all his needs to receive love back.”
I am confident that men want to do marriage right, but I have seen an unfortunate pattern among LDS men when it comes to sexuality. I am confident that the mistakes they are making are on accident, but it does not diminish the pain experienced by their wives. They have successfully eliminated all the obvious forms of abuse out of their behavior. For this I commend them. They worked hard to stay morally clean before they got married. If they do have some “slip ups” before marriage, compared to other young men, they show a great deal of self control. As they enter marriage, they bring with them expectations of having all their sexual “needs” fulfilled because they “deserve” it.
When one of these men starts to experience a gap between how much sex they are getting vs how much sex they were expecting to get, they are not quite sure what to do with the feelings of disappointment. There is a wide range of possible behaviors, from being “huffy” to being mean. No matter where their display of emotion lands them, in all cases, they are “sending a message” to their wives that they are having strong negative feelings about the “insufficiency”.
Because male brains tend to function on a “commerce” level, as does the business world, they think of such things as an exchange of services. He will use some imaginary scale in his head. This scale measures when he has done enough service for her that he now has a right to expect “service” in return. It sounds completely logical. If sexuality, especially for women, was an exchange of services, this philosophy would work fine. But, it is not. But fear not, gentlemen! There is a recipe that works. I have found that, unless there are some unfortunate medical complications, your woman will want to share her body with you under the following conditions.
This woman continues, “You taught me a lot about how my love (behaviors) will be automatic when he makes me feel loved, secure and wanted. It works. I can testy that it really works when he just honors his priesthood and loves me as Christ loves me. By this I mean that he treats me with Charity, unconditional love and doesn’t judge or criticize, or demand. How easy I can give and satisfy all his needs then out of true love. How automatic it was to forgive freely when he was penitent and kind.”
This is a woman who for more than two decades has felt sexually reluctant. She tried to “fulfill her duty” but instead of growing in love for her husband, she became increasingly resentful. I only met with her husband once, but he was a good student. All those years, he did not intend to hurt his wife. He is very intelligent in his profession and was just unintentionally making things difficult for himself and his wife. He was willing to try some new things, change his attitude and perspective, and his efforts have paid off.
“It is so interesting(?) how (due to the years of) mental and (emotional) abuse, an almost childlike fear would come over me when I knew I had to give him sex or any affections for him to love me. It was so wrong. That is why it was ruining our marriage. It totally shut me down as a woman in every way. Since coming to you, even though it was short, you gave me knowledge, so to speak keys to learn and unlock what I needed to hear and know. I have been carried as I have relied totally on Christ to heal me and show me the way. He (God) has (begun healing me), just like you said He would. I see clearer all the time. The Spirit guided me to you. I know this. Thank you. “
“ I am the Lioness at the Gate. I feel strong. My husband’s actions must be righteous or he gets nothing from me and in some way I know he senses this. As if the Holy Ghost has told him that he had better be good or else.”
Keep in mind, this woman does not expect perfection. She does maintain a high bar for how she expects to be treated, but she has and will respond warmly to noticeable effort. I have observed that most women do an excellent job of refusing to be abused during their dating phase of life. If a guy gets demanding or unpleasant in the first few months of dating, she just withdraws with firmness, but maintains dignity. She doesn’t need to tolerate his crud. If he really wants to keep her around, he will soften his heart and humble himself and ask, with appropriate patience and persistence, what he has done wrong. A good woman will validate his sincerity (if it is real) and will carefully explain what she is experiencing. He is entitled to checking in with God for a second witness. He then makes the necessary adjustments, returns to the woman to ask forgiveness. Again, if he is being real, the Holy Ghost will manifest this unto her and she will soften back into the relationship.
The courage it takes for a man to find and defeat the demons within himself is very attractive to his woman. When he “comes home” from a battle like this, and “slays the dragon” (instead of her), she feels a strong urge to “reward him” for his valiant efforts. We are commanded, brethren, by our prophets to continue courting our women after we marry them. This cycle of accidentally hurting their sensitive spirits, becoming humbly aware of the mistakes we have made, attacking our weaknesses instead of our wives, conquering our internal dragons, and being rewarded for doing so is a glorious cycle! A whole lot better than the alternative, when we get to be angry, frustrated and…lonely.
“It has had a great change in our marriage. Thank you. I feel that maybe my situation is more common or prevalent than the pornography and gratifications that you discussed in (your other postings), in so many of our LDS homes. A flaxen cord to destroy our marriages. It is simple, Men of God must live the Priesthood as taught in D&C 121 so their women can keep their covenants to follow them. Thank you again. I feel your words will help all my children as well as they enter marriage. Thanks.”
For more information on this topic, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request a copy of my book, “And the Man Knew His Wife”. Other questions and/or comments are encouraged.
Also, you will want to check out http://www.worthgrouplcs.org/!