Question for the former gatekeepers
If you didn’t know, I’m married to one like you. We have sex on regular occasion. Now. Been that way for several years. Base frequency is not a problem. But she most definitely wants to control it. She’ll not outwardly admit this, but it’s evident in so many ways. Mostly because she wants to control every other aspect of life, so why wouldn’t sex be in the mix. Sure it is. So she understands it’s a need of mine, she wants to supply it. She tries to do so lovingly. And as long as I let her do things her way, all goes without incident. Problems arise when I try to inject anything of my own into the mix. I have tried so many times that now it just shuts me down. My outcome indifference becomes apathy. For example:
We had good sex yesterday morning. She initiated it directly. Just said “you wanna have sex before church?, we got time to kill.” So I said why not. It was good. Maybe my response was a little ho-hum. But I felt I knew her motivation – duty combined with convenience. Anyway…after church she asked if I wanted to go to the lake and paddle board with her. I was honest and told her I was not against it, but not excited about it either. Then said yeah, I’ll go, it’ll be fun and we’ve not done it together in a while. Smiles all around. We start getting ready and I asked her if she was gonna let me watch her undress. I said this in a coy tone, but not overly sexual, tried to convey that I wanted to see her naked. Finally just said so. She protested some, rolled her eyes, sighed, etc. I held tight and she smiled a little and went to undressing. She made a couple snide comments about “voyeur”, etc. Finally I told her to come over to me and I said “would you rather me not want to see you?” She said no and that was that. We went and had a good afternoon together. Wind was high, water was rough and it was more of a workout than a relaxing time, but we still had fun. Got home, I was sitting on the bed when she came in and I asked her if she was going to let me watch the reverse process? Big smile on my face. This time she got huffy and belligerent. Snarky comments like “you wanna watch me pee too?” I finally said “forget about it!” and haven’t spoke to her since. I don’t want to be passive/aggressive here. I’m just apathetic. And tired. It is so very obvious to me that this is about control. Control that she’s not gonna let go. I wasn’t actively pursuing sex yesterday either time I made comments. I wasn’t against it if it went that way, and would have embraced it if it had. I was gauging her response to a playful interaction. But her response to any such thing that hints at sex on my terms is never positive. For years I have accepted this as the only way to preserve peace and have sex – let her have her control where she feels comfortable. I’ve gone through bitterness, resentment, resignation to now I’m seeing apathy. That is the most dangerous of the four horseman.
What am I missing that would help help her understand the danger it possesses? I’ve straight up told her more than once. She’s so convinced in her own mind that she is doing nothing wrong that she can’t see it. In her mind, she’s giving me sex with good frequency, what’s the problem!? When I practice true outcome indifference to her tacit rejections, all it does is solidify in her mind that she is right, because it looks like peace and acceptance to her. I’ve got to be missing something.
oh…and I have more than once come out to say “what you did was hurtful to me,” Then comes the sighs and the “here we go again” remarks. She’s untenable. She’s turning me into a withdrawer. I’m not so sure that is not her plan…
She’s about to leave for work. I suppose I should go say have a nice day. I don’t feel like it.
First, please, please, please ignore anything I say that is not helpful. I can’t remember if you have shared a lot of details to your situation that I should understand before commenting, but the two things you said leapt out at me.
“What am I missing that would help help her understand the danger it possesses?”
This and the paragraph with it say to me that you are wishing, more than anything else, that there were something you could do to make her change her (admittedly bad) behavior/attitude. Perfectly understandable. But it’s still just as much a desire for control as your wife’s actions. (In fact it’s possible you desire control more because you feel like you don’t actually have any.) Which brings me to
“I finally said “forget about it!” and haven’t spoke to her since. I don’t want to be passive/aggressive here. ”
The silent treatment?? Passive/aggressive is exactly what that is. Actually that borders on manipulative. Again, I can understand why you would feel driven to behave that way, but it isn’t helping anything. And I don’t know how your wife receives the silent treatment (internally, not how she reacts externally) but when I was a child my mother routinely received the silent treatment and it fried her nerves. On the theory that you are only responsible for your own behavior, giving her the silent treatment is simply unkind.
I know what apathy feels like. Granted, not in my marriage relationship, so I admit that you may feel exponentially worse than I ever have and my observations may be completely irrelevant. They are not meant to be hurtful; it’s just what I noticed in your question. I am praying for you and your wife. Our God is a God of miracles. He created you both and can re-create you, from the ground up. I pray that you will discover each other anew and both learn a new way to approach your marriage. I pray that each of you will learn to completely submit your whole selves to Christ and to one another, and I pray that you will come to adore each other so ardently that you find it impossible to offend each other.
One more thought–when she got snarky and asked if you wanted to watch her pee, what if you had answered, still in a flirtatious way, “Well, I love watching you do anything, but if you’d rather have your privacy, I guess I can live without you for a few minutes!”?
LBD, I was listening to Sexy Marriage Radio on a trip return yesterday and one of the things they said was, “tell her you’re not called to a celibate or close to it marriage and things need to change.” Don’t make it easy for her. You’ve talked about her controlling and narcissistic behavior. That is huge!!! If she won’t address the issue, then maybe it’s time you do and how she chooses to act and behave will determine the next decisions you have to make.
Some of your posts have sounded eerily familiar with what I’ve heard my DW say about her narcissist, anti-social personality disorder ex husband. She couldn’t ever find her voice & opinion or cross him. She was conditioned not to because it supposedly wasn’t worth troubling the waters as there was always an emotional distance price to pay and At the time, something was better than nothing to her. When his daughters have called him out for lying or expressed something they need emotionally, he’ll shut them out with 1-4 wks of no text, call, visit or view an athletic event.
Trust me, DW has found her voice! 😀 but it took a whole lot of counseling for her. Her ex refused to go to a counselor more than once or twice. When it would become obvious that he had such significant issues AND he could NOT control the situation, he refused to go back. DW believes he had some type of trauma as a child that started him down this path but has never been able to discover a story.
Again, you can’t control how she responds or how she feels. Sometimes our spouses need to feel the pain and uncomfortable emotions when they misbehave or are refusing to address an issue, character or spiritual matter with the time, attention and effort it deserves. This may also mean that if it’s that important to us, we’ll need to initiate placing some hard boundaries or consequences for their lack of movement to face what they, or we, need to face individually and/or together and bring peace, love, joy and growth one’s marriage.
LBD, sorry things aren’t working out better for the two of you. I agree with you that control is one of the main factors. But I wonder what is behind the desire to control? What is holding back her ability to be more sexually free with you? What limits her being more generous? More considerate of your desires?
I don’t have answers, LBD, but I can tell you that DH and I have lived through many situations like you wrote about. Not for several years, though, and I hope you don’t give up hope.
As I read your post, I could just feel myself thinking and feeling it all over again.
I would have been thinking, look, I put myself out for him. Yes, he liked it. Than I turn around and ask him to do something that I would like. Now I can’t speak for your exact situation, but my DH was (and still is. I’ve decided he can’t help it much, its just how he is!) a lot less exuberant about doing my things, than I was (and am) about doing his things.
Than, as if that wasn’t enough, he asks if he can watch me undress. Again, I don’t know how it is for you, but I would have been thinking. So, I put myself out and now he wants to watch me undress, and than wants me to come over there, and than it will be sex all over again. (And why did he have to ask, when he saw me naked every single day?) Than, if I had said, ‘so you wanna watch me pee yet?’, he likely would have said ‘sure, why not? I can do what I want, can’t I?’ And I would have felt that we could do NOTHING that wouldn’t end in sex. And depending on the situation, it may have either been a round of grudging sex, or me feeling awful guilt until the next time we had sex.
Ok, so DH and I have grown up a lot and learned a lot. Occasionally, we still talk about those days. He has regrets how he was, I have regrets how I was. Now sometimes, I feel we almost tiptoe around each other, because of those days. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I felt like anything we did ALWAYS had to end in sex, as if we were settling accounts and I hated it.
It may be a control thing. For me, I didn’t understand anything that was happening. All I knew is I felt he was driving me crazy and he seemed like he couldn’t help himself. But, if he had thanked me profusely for the enjoyable sex, and later, with the undressing, he had quietly watched, than maybe later hugged me and said how beautiful I was and he had enjoyed the graceful (lol) undressing, I believe I would have felt totally different. But somehow I wish back than that I felt I was as important to him as my body was.
I don’t know anything about how it all works in your marriage, so please throw out what isn’t helpful. Its only hindsight speaking, and no accusations!
The “controller” will always be the one most willing to sacrifice the entire relationship or that aspect of the relationship.
The problem with this is that it is not “right”. Right isn’t whoever needs the other the least and is ready to do a sinful thing (leave) is who should be in power. This is how the world defines relationship, but God has a different way.
I know I am trying to gain some control over sex, for I feel like I have none, as you rightfully say. I am not the one most willing to sacrifice sex, far from it
And you should. She is your wife. She was made to be your helper. She should do your will. It is right and good for you to have control over her according to the Lord. It is her defiance to what is good that is a big part of the problem. It is her thinking she can just do as she pleases with you that is part of the problem. Again, marriage is made by God with a plan of how it should be, but she is operating outside of that plan. It isn’t going to be good because it isn’t the way it should be.
That struggle has nothing to do with my wife, it’s on me to overcome. It’s a constant battle being waged under the surface.
I disagree. Your wife is sinning against you with this attitude. If she didn’t have it, you wouldn’t be experiencing it. Now you can battle how to best respond to it as a Godly husband and man before the Lord, but it most certainly has something to do with your wife. Would you be here asking these questions if she had played along with your flirting on Sunday? No.
I also know my wife has to feel in control of everything in her life. She can not tolerate much less than full control.
Let me put it his way, she doesn’t have to feel in control of everything in her life, she wants to. More so, it is a false security blanket. We all do this to certain degrees, but ultimately, we all need to be mindful that we are not running the show and that He is in control, and that He is our Shepard, and that we have to trust Him and follow Him and depend upon Him sometimes even for our daily bread, but it should be everything and so much more.
I try to be a practical person. I know I cannot control her. I would like to control myself better.
And there is a balance. There are times to ask for something and there are times to let it be. But if you ask, she should align herself to you. She should know it is her duty to align herself to you. She doesn’t know this or she refuses to be obedient to it.
I am a pleaser by nature. This means I am often walked on. I allow it in efforts of peacemaking. I don’t fight back very often. This is not just in my marriage, but every aspect of my life. I am always too concerned with what others think of me.
Me too, and it caused me no end of heartache. I had to retrain myself to focus on an audience of one – Him. I need to put what He thinks above all else, even my family. Only when things are in the right order will things be right.
My wife is somewhat the opposite. She’s a bull in a china shop most of the time. She is a fierce woman. To lead her is a unbelievable task and a supreme battle of wills. It is tiring, and I fail more times than not. I figure I need to change some of my leadership style or tactics. I am often at a loss there.
Absolutely you need to change your leadership style. LBD, I mean this in kindness, but she is acting more aggressively and your are active more passively. These are opposite roles of which God has one for you and one for her. You need to become more active and she needs to become more passive. It isn’t even about what makes you happy or what makes her happy, it is about doing what is good before God. There is a huge difference between fierce (and out of control) and strong (under control). My wife is insanely strong. I see her endure things that I can only hope to have the strength to endure if I were put to the test. She is tough, but she is also yielding.
I am a logical, practical person primarily but I am also emotional and subject to anxiety and depression. I understand the value of vulnerability in marriage, but have seen and felt the pain it causes.
Me too, but I learned that while I can and often still do overthink things, more often than not, my thinking needs to be brought into alignment with Him. In other words, I could spend hours thinking about something that I think I know about mulling it over this way and that way, but often I would be better served by looking at God’s way and just going with it without all the contemplation.
Sacrifice? It should never be quid pro quo. Christ got nothing from us first. But should we not respond to Him? I’ll let you answer that for yourself. I do believe ingratitude is the most repulsive attitude one can have toward God. So then how does it feel to us? How many ways is it made manifest? How do we handle it?
You cannot approach marriage with equality. It is the world’s so called way, but it does not work. As you said above, there is always someone controlling the relationship. The question is, is the marriage doing it the way God designed it to work, or like many things, is it askew on the wrong track.
I asked myself over and over yesterday what I did wrong Sunday. Hmmm…I asked something that had a sexual flavor after she had already “given” me sex. I did that two times! Playfully, but IN THE SAME DAY!! How repugnant. 🙄. Then I got a little irritated at her reactions. I handled the first time well, not so well the second time.
I’ll make this clear for you – you did nothing wrong. Her reaction was wrong.
If you believe in God’s word then you know husbands are to be the leaders of the family. I have suggested to men on this forum to take firmer control of their own situations, but to do so with the underlying directive of the sacrificial love of Christ as guide.
And we should believe God’s word, it is life. And we should be gentle and sacrificial with our wives when the situation calls for it. We do ourselves, them, and God no service when we offer gentle and sacrificial when it causes harm to the marriage and them. He made us responsible for our wives after all and when we sit by idling doing nothing while they go the wrong direction, we are just like the servant who buried their talent and was called wicked. Jesus is the very definition of gentle and sacrifical, and yet He DID also turn over some tables. He also sternly rebukes His churches in Revelation. The point here is that the right thing to do is more important than being gentle and sacrificial all the time, or that being gentle and sacrificial in all situations is not right.
She gave me a hint when talking about her dad and how she has stood up to him and how he no longer controls her.
This may have a lot to do with why she doesn’t feel comfortable in your hands and under your control as she should. We all have our hurts, our pain, our baggage, and so on, but we also have to be working on being conformed to Christ and His way so as we shed ourselves, our weakness and insecurities also go.What i don’t know brother is how to get you from here to there, but it began with me being less or me and more of Him. Not the softy unmanly version of Him that the world teaches, but the overall Him that is patient and gentle when it is right, and rebuke-ful when it is right. I didn’t need to be any softer. I hope this isn’t too much LBD, there are a lot of people who think I’m too much for saying the bible’s teaching on this is what is good. They say it isn’t compatible with the world, and they are right, except that it is that the world isn’t compatible with the Word.
I empathize with your struggles and your feelings.
Thanks for sharing with us.
I know that this question is posted to former gatekeepers, and I am not one.
But I’m in a similar situation, only I am the wife.
I can’t say my husband is a gatekeeper NOW (though he definitely was earlier in our marriage).
However it FEELS like gatekeeping to me at times, being a wife that wants to feel pursued and desired by her spouse, and he just doesn’t. He cheerfully serves, which is an improvement from gatekeeping, but it sure doesn’t make me FEEL pursued or desired.
After all, I ask HIM to show ME some eye candy.
Rarely the other way around.
I try to love him how he needs to be loved, and remain honest and vulnerable to him by spelling out my needs. I think being willing and cheerful are great places to start from. And he is trying.
Have you gone about it that way?
Explained to her you want to feel loved, and that her rejection of your requests is not just dismissive of your needs, but hurtful and causing you to want to withdraw.
Explain how her continued rejection has caused you so much pain that you’re now becoming apathetic.
That you want to remain open, vulnerable and loving toward her, but she is creating a hostile atmosphere by her actions. If she continues to dismiss you that it will be almost impossible to remain open and vulnerable with her and that will affect your entire relationship.
You want unity and freedom to love and feel loved.
That you want to work with her to create a marriage where you are both blessed beyond measure.
In my opinion, it isn’t being passive aggressive.
It’s attempting to cope with hurtful dismissive actions from someone you love. But maybe I am wrong, because I have walked in your shoes.
We may be opposite genders, but I assure you that the pain is just as real.
Jumping in, but first, I haven’t read the whole thread >deeply< but scanned many responses. A lot of them really really good, and LBD’s pain is very evident. I’m sorry this is happening.
Just as another point of view, your DW is bartering with you: She gives you something you want, that’s sex, then she expects you to give her something she wants. Which in my opinion is very low. Makes me want to use words like prostitution and other transaction words. And yes, it smacks of her having control over you.
I don’t know what advice to offer you, but hoping another ‘point of view’ may shake loose some new ideas to move forward with resolving this.
I’m sorry LBD. It seems to me your wife is playing with fire and your marriage is on a dangerous path with that kind of criticism. If I had a do over in my first marriage, I would’ve sought outside intervention much earlier. I kept trying to do things on my own (conversations, books, effort,) which got me the same results. Instead, I would now seek counseling for both of us earlier and go if she wouldn’t go…and eventually, if my now ex wouldn’t change, I’d have some harder conversations and boundaries and consequences if she wouldn’t face some of her and our issues.
What your wife is doing isn’t fair or right and clearly there is an unhealthy dynamic going on. I’m saddened by it.