Disturbed about women feeling used.
I say this every time I post on here but I will say it again, I am an unmarried, never dated, 20 year old man who is still at home. I also have been clean from porn for I think about 2-3 months now if that makes any difference as well.
Lately I have seen some posts where women speak out about feeling like their husband is using them for sex. I have a theory as to why they feel that way. First however, let me highlight some disturbing implications I have about this accusation towards husbands.
If it is possible for a husband to use his wife for sex, would that not mean he is emotionally deadened enough to force his wife to have sex with him? Furthermore, if he is that heartless, are you not saying that he is capable of going to any means to satisfy a base desire? In other words, if he was interested in “using” his wife for sex, could he not “use” anything he wanted for sex, including but not limited to the raping of a stranger, or the purchasing of a hooker? This whole terminology of USING sounds like an accusation that the husband is basically completely emotionally disconnected from the act. If the husband is this way, it could be concluded that he has a mental state no different from the kind of psychology that rapists show, they have no remorse for their actions and will use whatever means necessary to get what they want, no matter what the cost to other individuals.
These are the kinds of messages I get when hearing this terminology of using. I think the above implications that can be drawn from this accusation should be taken into consideration before making such a monumental claim. This claim, as a general rule, is always made from an emotional standpoint. I think this is one of those times where feelings need to be thrown out the window and logic needs to take charge. Logically, if the accusation was made, everything I have said could be construed as being true about the husband. Essentially, the husband is no more than an above average trained dog, that is barely being held in check by societies decency. This is of course ridiculous and untrue, but it is something I have heard my entire life from feminists and pornography.
Now for the theory. So far I do not think I am getting any points in anyone’s court for what I have been saying, but allow me to charge ahead like a bull in a china shop.
If a woman feels she is being used by the husband for sex, does this feeling not stem from the lack of involvement from the wife? It is in fact true that if the husband was having sex with a woman that was bored and offering him duty sex, that it would be the equivalent to having sex with a doll. He would be using her, but only because of her lack of involvement. It could be that the husband is not allowing the woman to get involved, but men are so afraid of limiting a woman in any way nowadays I highly doubt this is the case. Therefore the feeling of being used could be directly connected to the involvement of the wife.
My father said something about a character in a romance story one time that stuck with me. The male character in the scenario was a hard working surgeon, but lacking in normal emotional capacity, whereas the female character was a relatively well balanced female. She decides to pursue this man, despite the knowledge of his personality, and is surprised to find that he is hard to love. My father asked the question in relation to wooing this man, “where is the female charm?” He wanted to know where the playfulness was, the affection, and the things that generally break any man’s walls down. If wives are feeling used by their husbands, I ask you this, where are your charms being directed at your husband? Surely, this kind of involvement from the wife would eventually translate to a better understanding of the husband, but that is just my theory.
I hate to have to state this, but I hope no one was offended by this and I was not speaking out of turn. My thoughts on these matters are obviously immature and lacking in detail, but I will still argue them for the sake of ideological exploration.
No offense taken, I do disagree with you though.
“If a woman feels she is being used by the husband for sex, does this feeling not stem from the lack of involvement from the wife?”
It would be much more common that the reverse is true. The lack of involvement stems from the feelings of being used. The feeling often comes from a husband’s lack of interest in his wife outside the realm of sex. If a husband only shows interest in his wife when he is seeking sex, a wife will often feel used. If a woman does not feel lovingly connected before sex, that also may lead to feeling used. Gary Chapman (5 Love Languages) explains that when a woman feels loved and cherished, it opens her up to express the connection sexually. When a woman does not feel loved and cherished, it will negatively affect her ability to connect sexually.
“I think the above implications that can be drawn from this accusation should be taken into consideration before making such a monumental claim. This claim, as a general rule, is always made from an emotional standpoint. I think this is one of those times where feelings need to be thrown out the window and logic needs to take charge.”
This is a dangerous attitude. I haven’t read every post here, so maybe you saw something I didn’t, but I only saw someone talking about women feeling used. That is not an accusation at all, it is a description of the valid emotional experience of the woman. Invalidating, denying, ignoring, or throwing out a woman’s feelings and trying to explain with logic why she is wrong is often a major source of marital problems. Joe Beam talks about that here:
I can tell from your points and your writing style that you are a very logical, head-centered individual (as am I.) The parts of the brain that deal with sexual function are located squarely in the emotional centers of the brain. Throwing out feelings is never a good idea when it comes to a healthy sexual relationship.
“If it is possible for a husband to use his wife for sex, would that not mean he is emotionally deadened enough to force his wife to have sex with him?”
Speaking as a rape victim, I can tell you that there is a great difference between a man using his wife for sexual release and a man forcing any woman, including his wife, to have sex with him. Hugely different attitude from both the man and the woman.
The fact is, many husbands are going to want sex at a time when the wife isn’t into it. The converse is true as well, although probably not with as high a frequency. The wife can either agree to go along out of a selfless desire to please her husband. Or, she can choose to merely tolerate it, but still gives consent. Is he using her for sexual release? Absolutely, by the rawest definition of the concept. It’s not the ideal situation. But sex in that situation doesn’t mean that the man is emotionally capable of forcing sex on a woman.
“If a woman feels she is being used by the husband for sex, does this feeling not stem from the lack of involvement from the wife?”
Again, that’s not necessarily the case. You can have a wife who is completely involved with the husband and wanting that relationship to be fully consummated. But the husband is going through a tough time and seriously just needs release. He may be exhausted, he may be stressed, he may be ill. The wife consents because she knows he needs it. But her needs are clearly not his focus. She stays strong because she knows he needs it. Again, it isn’t the ideal situation. But it is in fact a husband using his wife for sexual release even when she’s completely involved.
The story about charm has quite a bit of depth to it. First, we’re assuming that the guy is capable of being receptive to a woman’s charms. Some just aren’t. They may be married to their jobs, they may have hormonal imbalances, they may be abuse victims who aren’t comfortable with intimacy…. The list is seemingly endless.
My point here is that every case, every marriage, has its own story. We can’t assign blame on either the woman or the man without knowing the entire situation. Life is very complicated, with many different pieces going into a marriage.
P.S. in a class I took with Dr Corey Allen (of Sexy Marriage Radio) he described his immaturity before he got his marriage on the right track. He said he would push Pam away unless he wanted something from her (sex). To me, that really looks like using her for sex, and it’s not an accusation; it’s his own testimony. It does not make him pathological. It does not make him the equivalent of a rapist. It just means that he was immature and a little selfish, like most of us were in our early 20’s.
The reason I am saying to separate from one’s emotions is for the sake of considering one’s emotions. I think that emotional introspection from an emotional state is a dangerous game. Considering one’s anger from a state of anger may not be the most successful way to identify the cause of anger.
“It would be much more common that the reverse is true. The lack of involvement stems from the feelings of being used. The feeling often comes from a husband’s lack of interest in his wife outside the realm of sex. If a husband only shows interest in his wife when he is seeking sex, a wife will often feel used. If a woman does not feel lovingly connected before sex, that also may lead to feeling used.”
It is an interesting world that we live in where a spouse needs to seek out sex from the person that has sexual stewardship over them. I think the husband’s lack of interest in his wife is a separate issue. They seem highly intertwined, but allow me to explain. The husband or the wife’s involvement with each other should not rob them from showing love and affection both sexually, and non-sexually. In other words, the relationship should be approached from what I believe to be, a Jesus attitude. That is, nothing should stand in the way of either party actively seeking out an expression of love. The showing of love and affection should take priority over the focus on issues, hugs now, issues later so to speak. It seems very counterproductive, but in fact I think it is the kind of obedience to each other that God asks us to give to Him. I theorize that this kind of dedication would result in a man thoroughly enamored with his wife, and vice versa. The only reason I would “push” a future spouse away is because I understand that my feelings, when I have tried to explain them to people, are a largely boring and unimportant issue, as perceived by others. Unless the “push” you are speaking of is the husband denying communication with the wife. In that case, I think I would not want to listen to her if I was sure that she did not want to listen to me, but then I would have to struggle with the fact that I would be enabling a vicious cycle. I would have to separate from my own emotions and focus on hers, despite the fact I had determined she did not care about my own emotions. This, in large part, is how men deal with rejection I think. It is a cold disconnect. Men experience lots of rejection, but that is probably because they demand much.
This is why I say throw feelings out the window. In the context of my paragraph, I think you made an unfair assessment of that statement as well. You have automatically assumed that I am saying one spouse should throw out the other’s feelings, when in fact I am saying that a spouse should look inward and throw out any feelings that prevent them from being the spouse that they are called to be by God’s word. Whether it is an accusation or not is irrelevant. The consideration of how it is going to be received needs to be addressed. It may be received as an accusation, or as constructive criticism, I use the word accusation because that is what it sounds like to me every time I have heard it. I will say this, if one has to practice this kind of tip toeing of communication around the spouse, there may be something amiss. Not that you should be blunt and mean, but that things that come from the heart are openly discussed.
I am unsure what the purpose of your statement is. I am going to shoot in the dark with this answer so I hope I do not hit anything vital. Are you saying that because I have no relational experiences I cannot diagnose a statement that is made in a relationship? This is a valid concern. It is not something I am concerned with as my goal is to learn as much as I can before I get married. I am also not diagnosing any specific relationship, but a statement I find to be odd that is made by wives for the most part.
I also am confused as to why so many people enter into marriage with a lack of knowledge of what love is. I am starting to understand that our definition of love is defined by the world. I have heard from Holywood and people around me my entire life the term “falling in love.” I believe this term is a serious misunderstanding of love. A better definition of love that I am using to approach more and more topics is that love is a choice. A choice that needs to be continually acted upon and built on to construct a growing love for one another. When I look at marital issues from the perspective that people think they fall in love, everything makes a whole lot more sense. Of course nothing is working, because the foundation is built on an idea that everything should just work by no effort of either person. The opposite is true to experience love I think. You must be intentional, dedicated, and protective of the spouse’s honor. The idea that sex is a celebration makes much more sense from this principle.
Based on the intensity of your reaction, the term “feeling used” seems to have struck an emotional nerve with you. Do you see the irony?
“I have heard from Holywood and people around me my entire life the term “falling in love.” I believe this term is a serious misunderstanding of love. A better definition of love that I am using to approach more and more topics is that love is a choice.”
That is not a better definition of love. It is just another definition. Love is many things, and choice is ONE kind of love. The intense, beginning stages of a relationship that are often referred to as “falling in love” are also ONE part of love; this phase involves chemical changes that serve to forge a strong pair bond on which later phases can be built. Passion is an important kind of Love, and Passion is not a choice. The ancient Greeks described 5-9 different concepts (depending on your source) that we lump together under one term, “Love.”
If you will study the work of Dr. Robert Sternberg, you will discover that Consummate Love, the ultimate kind of love in a healthy marriage, has three components: Commitment (which is related to your definition of Choice), Intimacy, and Passion. Commitment (choice, obedience, etc.) is very important, but without the other components, it results in “Empty Love.” In a romantic relationship, passion is very important, but without the other components, it merely amounts to infatuation, which never lasts. You are right, the Hollywood version of Love which only recognizes that ONE component, is seriously flawed. The solution is not to redefine Love to a different single component of Consummate love, but to broaden the understanding to include all the components.
Dear StateofThings, please realize that I am coming from a place of both several years of intense research and study, and also personal experience and hurt. I can guarantee you that choice alone does not lead to a satisfying marital relationship. I can personally attest that the title “Empty Love” is completely accurate. And painful.
“The showing of love and affection should take priority over the focus on issues, hugs now, issues later so to speak.”
This statement reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of the way many women are created. You are correct, one form of love is a choice. But affection is not. Many of us women cannot feel affection when there is an issue standing in the way. We can make loving choices when there are issues, but we cannot be involved in the sexual connection. This only leads to sex out of obedience, which in turn can lead to lack of involvement in sex, feelings of emptiness in sex, or feeling used.
I have heard it said from various sources that men need to enjoy sex in order to feel connection, but women need to feel connection in order to enjoy sex. Does this help you to understand at all?
“Are you saying that because I have no relational experiences I cannot diagnose a statement that is made in a relationship? This is a valid concern. It is not something I am concerned with as my goal is to learn as much as I can before I get married.“
I don’t get the sense of that from your posts. I would expect that someone who was trying to learn would ask a lot more questions, instead of explaining how things are or should be.
“This whole terminology of USING sounds like an accusation that the husband is basically completely emotionally disconnected from the act“
Re-reading your post, this telling word choice gives me an idea that might help you understand the perspective of the wife in this scenario: it’s entirely not about the husband being emotionally disconnected from the act, it’s about the perception of him being emotionally disconnected from his wife.
“Whether it is an [act of using] or not is irrelevant. The consideration of how it is going to be received needs to be addressed.”
I can see that you do understand the concept, I changed one word in your quote to help apply the same principle to this topic. It’s less about whether or not the husband is actually using her for sex, and more about how it is received. If the way a man goes about his relationship and about sex makes his wife feel like he is more interested in the ACT than he is in HER, she is probably going to end up feeling used.
I see that I should be more clear on the frivolity of my thoughts and theories. I am not going to lie, I feel cowed, but this is rightly so. Please consider that my explaining of an idea or issue is my understanding of the topic at hand. I explain in order that disagreement will come and discussion will ensue. Discussion is the way that I have learned most everything in my life, and I have found it to be a fun and enjoyable form of learning.
Maybe my reaction was intense, and maybe it sounded emotional, but I want to reassure you that I feel no ill will or contempt with any words that have been said. I will be the first one to say that I am young and inexperienced, that does not make me afraid to state my opinion however. I do not state my opinion or thoughts for the sake that it is not changed however. This is my current opinion, it does not make it a right one.
On that note, I have to agree with you when you say that love is multi-dimensional. However, I am approaching the subject from a position of choice because I seem to be capable of choosing passion and who receives it, which is why no woman on this earth has received my own passion. I am not saying that women are capable or incapable, nor am I saying that that is a bad thing, or that I hold it against women for not being able to force themselves to give passion. I am merely trying to approach the issue of falling in love from an ultimatum standpoint, which is probably not the best approach, as you have highlighted.
What I am trying to address is how this makes the man feel, or at least, how I would feel if I was accused of such a thing. This is why I laid out the relation between using and rape, noticing the similarities. In my own mind, I could construe that the woman is essentially accusing me of rape, which would be a surefire way to make me not want to approach her for sex in any capacity. Along my reasoning chain, the next conclusion I would probably come too is that I need to pursue sex anyways because it is good for marriage, but I also have a serious problem with the fact that she feels this way, and I need to do everything in my power to address it.
I was not saying that the man is a rapist, I was saying that saying he is using his wife sounds to me like it is an accusation of rape. This shocked me obviously. I do not want to be accused of this.
First of all welcome to the forum. Throughout its various iterations TMB has been very helpful and educational for me as a husband and I hope it will also benefit you. Forgive me for a brief off the cuff response but I’ve got a long day ahead of me tomorrow.
I see where you are coming from but as others have pointed out I think you are reaching too far with your argument that the phrase “feeling used” is equivalent to calling a man a rapist.
Both husbands and wives can legitimately feel used in a relationship. A wife may feel used for sex since that is the only time her husband pays her any attention. A husband can feel used when his wife refuses sex and only pays attention to him when she needs him to do something.
As I tell my wife, who sometimes acts like Spock, human beings aren’t meant to be purely logical creatures. Emotion has its place. Logic and willpower can give you the strength to carry on when dealing with issues in a relationship but if we ignore emotions we become mechanical and the relationship dies or stagnates. Basing all decisions solely on logic or emotion will lead to disaster. A balance is required, to mix my sci-fi metaphors.
Yes, the foundation of love is a making a choice but we don’t just live on the foundation alone, we build on it.
“I see that I should be more clear on the frivolity of my thoughts and theories. I am not going to lie, I feel cowed, but this is rightly so. Please consider that my explaining of an idea or issue is my understanding of the topic at hand. I explain in order that disagreement will come and discussion will ensue.”
Thank you for explaining that. I feel like I understand you better and I will keep that in mind when I read your posts. I would ask you to please consider that there is nothing frivolous about this topic. A lot of hurting people come through this forum, and I would like us to be sensitive to that.
“Maybe my reaction was intense, and maybe it sounded emotional, but I want to reassure you that I feel no ill will or contempt with any words that have been said.”
The word “disturbed” that you used in the title indicated emotion to me. Don’t worry, I didn’t sense any ill will or contempt from you. I did sense some defensiveness, probably stemming from emotion, possibly fear, worry, or hurt. Your later comments suggest that you feel some worry that this could happen to you in the future. Is that accurate? Is there something else that you are feeling?
“In the context of my paragraph, I think you made an unfair assessment of that statement as well. You have automatically assumed that I am saying one spouse should throw out the other’s feelings, when in fact I am saying that a spouse should look inward and throw out any feelings that prevent them from being the spouse that they are called to be by God’s word”
I apologize for unfairly characterizing your statement. Thank you for clarifying and agreeing that one spouse should not throw out the other’s feelings. In your original post, it reads as if you, yourself, are dismissing these women’s feelings as unimportant. It reads as if you believe it is wrong for women to have those feelings because it might be offensive to their husband. Trying to explain why someone else feels the way they do, instead of asking questions, is very dismissing of the other person’s feeligns. When we dismiss each other’s feelings it is just as unproductive as when a spouse does it. As you clarified further, I agree with your intended meaning that acting out of a state of emotionally-charged hypersensitivity is harmful. The solution is not to throw out the feelings, though. Like SLS said so very well, it is about balance. Keep the feelings, but wait until “you have your feelings” instead of “your feelings having you.”
Here’s a distinction to your point: psychologically, it is actually impossible to throw out feelings. We do not have rational control over our feelings. What we do have rational control over is our attitudes, and whether we will nurse resentment over those feelings of hurt, repress them, or deal with them appropriately. We also have rational control of whether or not we will angrily blame someone else for our feelings, or take responsibility for them as our own problem. We can throw out attitudes that hinder. Are we coming closer to a place of mutual understanding? As we talk back and forth, I think we have more common ground than disagreement.
Please realize, even if it doesn’t make sense to her husband or to an outside observer, it is easily possible for a woman to say from a place of emotional/rational balance, that she feels like she is being used sexually. Especially if she is exercising the attitude to deal with hurt feelings rather than repress or wallow in them. Not every woman who makes this statement is acting out of a triggered amygdala.
“What I am trying to address is how this makes the man feel, or at least, how I would feel if I [felt I was] was accused of such a thing”
Your shift in approach here was absolutely beautiful. As SLS pointed out, it is highly appropriate to focus on the feelings, as long as we keep them balanced with reason. Most problems in marriages are based on feelings, and are most successfully handled by exploring those feelings. This is the very basis for one of the most successful marriage therapies, EFT – emotionally focused therapy. (For anyone seeking more in-depth understanding of this, please refer to “Love Sense” and “Hold Me Tight” by Sue Johnson.) When we talk directly about our feelings, instead of framing things in terms of theory/opinions/right vs. wrong/etc. it usually (not always!) makes it easier for people to respond to us positively. Opinions can be logically disputed, but feelings are always valid. I can see your point of how you might respond emotionally to your future wife having these feelings, and I can see how you might feel that way. As you incorporate your feelings into this discussion, I find it much easier to engage with you. This is true in all healthy interpersonal relationships, but especially true in marriage. If you can take this knowledge and tuck it away for the future, it will serve you well.
Successful relational communication centers on 2 things, feelings and needs. Now that you have expressed your feelings, I am anticipating that your needs might include to have those feelings understood and validated. So I will repeat, yes – it makes sense that when a woman feels like she is being used, the husband might then feel misunderstood or even attacked. His/your emotional reaction is just as valid as hers, and is a serious matter. I will add, it is very important that if a woman chooses to share these feelings with her husband, she do so without actual blaming or accusation. (Even in the cases where the accusation would be true!) There is a very important distinction between “I don’t feel loved and appreciated; when we have sex I feel used” and “You don’t care about me, you’re just using me for sex.” Are there any other needs you have related to this topic that I have not anticipated? Anything you would like me to understand differently about where you are coming from?