When we marry, it’s because we want to be with someone for the rest of our lives.
We enjoy being with them. We love them. We want that relationship.
And God said that was a good thing! “It is not good for man to be alone.”
This week, on social media and on the blog and on the podcast, we’ve been talking about all kinds of different things, from coercing women to send nude photos to what emotions tell us to whether women are in sin if they’re sad. But I acutally think all of these things go together, so in this wrap-up Friday post I’d like to take us on a journey to try to amalgamate many of the things we’ve talked about in the last few days!
First, I decided to “fix” this quote from Martha Peace’s book The Excellent Wife:
Interestingly, on Facebook one woman pushed back, saying that I wasn’t treating Peace fairly, since elsewhere in this chapter she said that it was normal to want intimacy with your husband, and that was okay.
But here’s the difference (which I explained near the end of an Instagram Live yesterday): She says it’s not a sin, but as soon as women feel lonely or sad, THEN it becomes a sin. She does this throughout her book–as soon as women actually expect something and feel disconnected or sad when they don’t get it, then it’s a sign they’re unsubmissive and idolatrous. Women’s emotions, and women’s reasonable expectations in marriage, are labelled sins. And this isn’t just Martha Peace–you’ve likely heard similar things too.
- “You can’t expect your husband to fill your emotional needs. That’s what Jesus is for. If you’re unhappy in marriage, you’re not leaning on Jesus enough.”
- “Your husband is a man, not a woman. God made Him differently. He’s going to see the world differently. If you feel disconnected, it’s because you’re expecting him to be a woman, and God never made him that way.”
But what if, as Becky Castle Miller suggested in our podcast yesterday, our emotions are healthy signs of what is happening in our environment? And our emotions spur us to act, to get help for our marriage, to fix things?
Women aren’t allowed to expect anything; but men are entitled to much.
What many were pointing out with regards to Peace’s quotation was that she was upset at women who were expecting an intimate connection with her spouse.
And yet the same people who berate women for expecting intimacy in marriage often also tell women they must meet their husbands’ sexual desires–even, as I was talking about last week, to the point of coercing women into sending nude photos (I talked about this in that Instagram Live this week too).
Mara, one of my frequent and wonderful comments on this blog, summed up the situation perfectly with this statement:
It is disgusting how hard this dysfunctional system and those who uphold it work. They work so hard to make sure no man ever has to go without anything whatsoever, sexually.
Another commenter, Mindy, followed up with this:
It’s sexual gluttony. Why in the world would we ever think this is ok? It’s like saying a “man really can’t go without pie. So you need to be prepared to make him pie whenever he wants or he’ll go to Perkins and we KNOW how sinful and unhealthy THAT pie is. You don’t want him to get heart disease from bad pie, do you? Only your pie can keep him from sinning. And make sure it’s often so the temptation isn’t so hard to bear”. It’s insane.
Sheila, I would love to see you do a post addressing this obsession with making sure men have access at all times to sex with their wives (gluttony) and how that intersects with porn use, almost just replaces it in a “holy” form. The idea that the man doesn’t need to be prepared to have self-control in regards to sex (in fact requires the opposite) is actually keeping him from spiritual maturity. In all things we are asked to be self controlled, and that has to include sex, too.
Yet we are told to give men a pass on that. It really is like any other appetite, like food or spending money. Both of those we see as unhealthy if we insist we require access to them whenever we feel the “urge”, but sex is somehow elevated beyond that to a separate category. And the female “counterpart”, as they teach, emotional connection, is not even treated that way, which really is telling. At least they would be consistent if they said men need to be emotionally available anytime a woman requires it of them! Can you imagine the outrage if woman insisted our immediate need for emotional connection outweighed their desires? I have yet to encounter a book that preaches that.
We simply must eliminate entitlement, while teaching reasonable expectations in marriage.
And those expectations must be mutual. Both men and women should expect connection, teamwork, partnership, care, and faithfulness when you marry. That’s reasonable. That’s what marriage is.
We should not be labelling it a sin if someone is sad because that expectation is not met.
And we should not be telling people they’re entitled to more than this.
If we could start using the reasonable expectations in marriage/entitlement distinction, maybe we could actually get somewhere!
Entitlement in Marriage Series
- What Entitlement in Marriage Looks Like: Are you an entitled spouse?
- 4 Things You Should Expect from Your Spouse
- It's Not Idolatry to Expect Connection with Your Spouse
- Entitlement to Sex: The Double Standards of Expectations
- Entitlement and Weaponized Incompetence: Your Spouse Should Be a Grown-Up
- How to Handle an Entitled Spouse