In Dr. Wall’s last blog he exposed some of the hurtful thoughts, feelings and actions around sexuality that create havoc in marriage. He suggested that married couples who live this way are really living as roommates instead of husband and wife (for the other blogs in this series click here). What does sexuality and marriage look like when sexuality works and the husband is being the kind of husband he should and she’s being the wife she should? What would a couple have to do to get there?
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and the they shall become one flesh.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you know I take a moral stance. This viewpoint stems from my belief that God created the universe and that He knew what He was doing and that the things said about marriage in the Scriptures are not man-made drivel and there are some really helpful ideas in there. This point of view is also reinforced everyday when my clients tell me of the havoc in their lives because they have not lived this way. At any given time Christians and non-Christians alike can have really unbelievable problems. These come from two sources: from outside of you (natural disasters, social forces and from intentional or unintentional hurt from others), and from your own poor choices. MOST of the time, the problems people bring to my therapy office, stem from the latter: Even though they knew these choices were wrong and hurtful and selfish, they made them anyway.
I suppose someone could argue that they didn’t know these choices were wrong. More likely, they knew they were wrong (an affair, for example), but they did them anyway. You can talk yourself into anything if you are not careful. You can tell yourself that the Ten Commandments and the Bible is all a bunch of old-fashioned, hyper-religious non-sense and that you can break them to your hearts delight and it won’t matter. You can tell yourself these things all you want as you frit your life away doing your own thing. Then look back on all these choices when you are old and grey, if you are lucky enough to live that long, and see where it got you. My guess is that regret will be a major part of your psyche.
Look, you reap what you sow. You plant seeds of selfishness, you’ll get a harvest of chaos in your life. You plant seeds of faithfulness and sacrifice and servanthood and tenderness and patience? You’ll reap a harvest of peace. Simple.
I’m a little sarcastic in my writing about these issues at times, because in a blog I have to make a point in a minute or two and sometimes the only way I can do that is to be in the reader’s face. If you came to see me and you told me all the things that you’ve done that you were ashamed about, I would patiently listen and you would sense, I trust, that I care. I’m not mad at you for making the choices you made that didn’t turn out so well for you. I’ll take you from where you are and we’ll look together how you can get to where you want to be and I’ll make a few suggestions on how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Most people are appreciative. Many try it on for size and marvel at how well their relationships improve. If that happens to you, I’ll be happy for you. If you decide that the guidelines I’m suggesting are not the way you want to go, I won’t rub your nose in it. I’ll be sad for you, because I know where those choices will take you. I’ve had hundreds of people tell me the same stories and, while the details are different, the results are the same.
What is the foundational characteristic of sexuality in marriage where both the husband and wife are living as husband and wife and NOT as roommates?
They respect the boundary around their marriage. The message that I proclaim in my office day after day is that the boundary around a husband and wife and their marriage is GOOD. The boundary is there to protect them. It protects trust. It protects caring. It protects security. It protects both of their hearts. It protects their confidence in each other. It protects their children. It protects the next generation and the wider society.
The vows we make when we marry and say “having Thee only” mean you have only one person in your heart and that is your husband or wife. That’s it. So in marriages that work and husbands and wives are faithful, neither is dinking around on the internet with porn or chatting with some stranger that they think is the opposite sex about sexual deviances or sharing with a co-worker about how unhappy they are in their marriages or texting a friend about their sexual proclivities, or flirting with the waitress or that hot guy at the bar. I could paint dozens and dozens of scenarios that I’ve heard in my office of how people have broken their marital boundaries and every time their spouses are in a disheveled mess. As well they should be! If you break the boundary around your marriage, you invite chaos into your life and into your spouse’s life and into the life of your marriage and your kids’ lives. Couples that thrive KNOW THIS AND BEND OVER BACKWARDS TO NOT LET THE VULTURES OF TEMPTATION IN OUR SOCIETY CONVINCE THEM THAT IT IS OKAY TO IGNORE THE BOUNDARY!!!!
Let’s hypothetically say that you didn’t break the boundaries around your marriage, you didn’t try to bring porn into your heart or your relationship, you didn’t feed sexual fantasies of other attractive men or women in your heart, you didn’t give away your heart or your loins to anyone else, electronically or personally or any other savvy, modern, technical way, save your spouse, and instead you took all these God-given desires and concentrated them ONLY on your spouse and if you had any left over, you used those to worship God or to develop your talents and abilities and creativity to benefit humankind and make the world a better place. Or, in other words, you respected the boundary of your marriage. What then?
Your spouse will trust your judgment, your motives, your actions, and your uses of time. He or she will support you. You will believe each other and IN each other. Motives are NOT second-guessed. The result will be peace, love and tenderness. Trust is strengthened through integrity over time. Integrity is what you have when you respect the boundary in your marriage. Trust is what your spouse gives you when you have integrity.
Now let’s go to the marital bedroom. This marital bedroom has a lock on the door, figuratively and literally. No one else is allowed, save the blessing of God. This is a privately shared moment, unique to this relationship. There is safety here. There is nakedness and NO shame for a time. And the two remind each other through their caresses and soft words and praise and flirtatious nods, or the subtle turn of a cheek and the silent gaze of their eyes, that something approaching the sacred is happening here. And the bond of their love is strengthened. And their commitment to each other is reinforced and the love they share is enhanced and the longings they have are fulfilled for a time. For a time. For these two lovers are, for a time, experiencing a tiny bit of paradise, each knowing they do NOT deserve the love they are receiving, each knowing they can never give enough back for the blessing they have received. They’ve mutually reached out to each other and went to the promise land and back and now they can face the cruel world again together another day. The love and unity they shared has been reinforced, the bond strengthened and the boundary reinforced. Resentments melt, anger cools and hardness of hearts soften as the couple unites in meaningful, marital sexuality.
That may sound idyllic if you’ve never experienced it and if you are a cynic you might mock the whole idea, but this mocking, if there is any, is from the choir of scavengers in our society that scream bloody curses that the boundary around your marriage is BAD and BORING. These voices are LOUD. These voices are convincing. These voices are tempting. But to couples that understand the sanctity of their marriage vows and heed the promises they made and honor this boundary around each other, and graciously and generously give to each other, these couples, over time, get closer together and sexuality is both the expression of that love and the means whereby this love grows.
Did you catch that? Let me say it again: Sexuality within the private sanctity in marriage between a husband and a wife is BOTH an EXPRESSION of that love AND the MEANS whereby this love grows. The EXPRESSION and the MEANS. This is the great tension and misunderstanding in marital sexuality. We’ll have more to say about this tension in future blogs, so stay tuned.
So….if we honor these marital vows and we take them seriously, our sexual lives will be fine? Well…we still have a few things to figure out. We’ll get to those at a later date. But unless we have this foundation of “having Thee only,” unless we honor this sacred boundary around us, we can’t even begin to start understanding meaningful, marital sexuality. This holy trust is the foundation of both our sexual lives together and our future as husband and wife. Let’s lay a solid foundation and build our house from there.
NOTE: If you have broken your marital boundary in any of the myriad ways available in these modern times, you can start honoring your marital boundary FROM HERE ON. Both you and your spouse are going to have some heartache and some crosses to bear and some fences to mend. But they can be mended. The only way that will happen is if you honor your marital boundaries FROM HERE ON. Starting NOW. It’s not very easy. It’ll take honesty and commitment from you, the wherewithal to say NO to the temptations that come your way, the generosity and support and patience of your spouse and a good counselor to lead the way. But it can be done.
The first seven articles in this series on living as roommates instead of husband and wife are:
Dr. Wall takes a sarcastic look at what it’s like to be married, living as roommates. Since this isn’t satisfying, people divorce in spades. Maybe they should have tried living as husbands and wives instead.
In this second blog in a series on living as roommates, Dr. Wall scoffs at the notion that living together is preparation for marriage and suggests it’s training each other to be roommates instead of husband and wife.
This blog is the third in a series on living as roommates instead of living together as husband and wife.
In this fourth blog Dr. Wall continues his series on roommates vs. husband and wife by looking at the temptation parents have to invest in their kids and ignore each other. This is fine for roommates; not for husband and wife.
Dr. Wall continues his series on living as roommates instead of husbands and wives by mocking the excuses people use to NOT be affectionate with their spouses.
In this continuing series on living as roommates instead of husband and wife (for the rest of the blogs in this series click here), Dr. Wall exposes how living as roommates carries over into the area of housekeeping. It isn’t pretty. Proceed with caution.
Dr. Wall continues his series on living as roommates vs. living as husband and wife (This is the seventh. Click here for the others.) by exposing the hurt, misunderstanding, selfishness and cavalier attitudes roommates have about sexuality.
For the next blog in this Series on Living As Roommates see:
Dr. Wall continues his series on roommates vs. husbands and wives by explaining how our changing sexual desire patterns over our lifetimes can be a source of hurt and divorce or vitality and enhancement. Fluctuating sexual desire gives us a chance to demonstrate either a giving spirit or a selfish spirit.
Here’s a couple of other blogs on similar topics to the ones discussed today:
Dr. Wall rants against Oprah’s recent declaration that women need to kick up their sex lives with porn.
Dr. Wall suggests that spouse who wants sex more and the spouse who wants sex less BOTH need sexuality the same.