Questions and Answers for Young Moms (Part III)
Author: Murphy Toerner, LPC, NCC, LMFT
Questions and Answers for Young Moms (Part III)
3a. What do I do when I have no desire and less energy than desire to have sex with my husband?
A--I have to admit the first few things that I thought of were... "If your best girl-friend in the whole world called you when you were tired and she NEEDED TO TALK, would you tell her that you were too tired or would you somehow muster up the energy to listen and perhaps even be "energized" by being emotionally available to your friend in her time of need?????"
Or, if your child were ill or wet the bed or threw up would you say, "I'm so sorry honey, Mommy is just too tired to be there for you right now !!!!!!!"?
Don't get me wrong, when kids are young and a mom goes without sleep... or when a mom is fatigued, of course there will be times when a wife does not want to be physically intimate with their husband. There will be times when a wife/mom justs says that she is too exhausted. There could also be times when it is a good and right choice to be available to one's husband to meet his sexual needs.
God designed sex for both male and female to enjoy, initiate and participate in. We are sexual beings with natural, God-given sex drives. It is a good, right, natural and Godly phenomenon. Sex in marriage serves several purposes: 1) it is like an "emotional glue" that holds the relationship together through difficult times (money, kids, sickness, in-laws, career, etc); 2) it is a physically pleasurable experience (and even after years of marriage you will still be learning new ways to satisfy one another); 3) it is a physical expression of "oneness" with one's spouse (in the same way that all Christians become identified with Jesus Christ and we are His bride in the spiritual realm and experience oneness with Him.)
Do wives have the option to decline? Of course they do. Do our husbands have that same option? Of course they do. (However, when you hit your 50s and the male sex drive lessens and yours is increasing or maintaining, it can be / will be pretty interesting...and possibly humorous to wake them up in the middle of the night and say..."honey, I can't sleep.......)
God designed sex for the good of the marital relationship. Satan is out to destroy all that is good...especially the marriage relationship. He will use any means possible to accomplish his schemes. Satan loves it when a wife becomes disappointed with a husband or with some aspect of her marriage. Satan hopes that wives will become so disappointed and discontent that they will begin to be critical and contemptuous toward their husbands.
However, we need to be very, very careful not to use sex as a way to gain power or control over our husbands. ... Do not withhold sexual intimacy because you are mad or disappointed with him for some reason. Often, sexual intimacy is the strongest "love language" for the men in our culture. How would you feel if your husband said that for a few months he was not going to get you any gifts, dinners, movies, cards, hugs, kisses, acts of service or time spent together because he was disappointed with you and he was going to withhold these "love languages" of yours from you? (yet,Do you have the right to say, "no?" Of course, you do.)
Another thing to think about it is... would you want to create an environment where your husband is vulnerable to the scores of unmarried women (or unhappily married women) he works with who would love steal your husband from you?
The Bible does make allowance for times when there is a cessation of sexual relations with one's spouse. Also, if your spouse is abusive or there are other extenuating circumstances...these factors will need to be considered.
3b. What can I do to help the self-esteem of my husband in a godly and appropriate way?
A-- First, I would want to ask you are you doing anything to undermine your husband's self-esteem? Our guys are designed to need respect. We are designed to need their love. We need to be aware of ways that we undermine our husbands. (Ask yourself, "Do I undermine his leadership? Do I belittle his opinions? Do I disregard him or even disrespect him? " )
Secondly, I want to point out that our culture has made a major shift in its attitude toward men (and women) in the last 20 years. Historically, we have been a male dominated/directed society. About 20 years ago, federal laws were passed which were aimed at creating greater equity and parity for boys and girls (men and women) in lower, middle, secondary schools and at the college level as well. Equity was needed.
However, today I am concerned that we have over compensated. Our culture is so PRO-FEMALE that today men are commonly portrayed as stupid slugs who are incapable of being intelligent husbands, fathers, leaders, etc. (Case in point, notice how men are portrayed in TV commercials and on sit-coms. Another fact that I recently read is that more women are going to college than men." As a Christian woman and as a mother of two young men, this is troubling to me.
We need to be aware of the schemes of the devil. He wants to destroy us. He wants to destroy our culture, our faith, our familes, our marriages, our perceptions of who God is and what God's designs are for every aspect of life. We need to be sober and alert.
I want every person who reads this to think about whether there are any ways that you are knowingly or unknowingly undermining the self-esteem of your husband. Do you always think that your ways are better than his. Do you believe that he is inept when it comes to the kids or finances. Do you act in ways that reveal your respect for your husband and the unique gifts, talents, problem-solving abilities and life experiences to work in tandem with your unique gifts, talents, problem-solving abilities and life experiences so that you both "act as one" in Christ. Ecces. says that "two are better than one for you have a better return for your labor..."
So...to answer the question, we, as wives, want to be looking for ways to build up our husbands. (Not flattery or false praise but to sincerely reinforce the ways we appreciate and value who our husbands are and what they uniquely bring to us. In Christ we are not less than our husbands in any way. God established a hierarchy in the family to cut down on chaos. (In Christ, there is no male nor female, Jew or Greek, slave or freeman... -- God values women. God treats women with dignity. )
3c. What defines being unfaithful in marriage? (obviously physical intimacy with someone else but what about emotional intimacy or pornography?)
A--There are a lot of ways one can be unfaithful. (However, remember, when we read Isaiah and Jeremiah we see how easy it is for humans to be UNFAITHFUL to God. We can read about how Peter denied Jesus to see that ... when we seek after other gods; when we deny Jesus; or when we try to find life apart from God... we are demonstrating that the principle of sin ... specifically manifested in "being unfaithful" indwells us all.)
We can be "unfaithful" in many ways:
• in our affections (toward any one...)
• with our time
• in how we focus our attention
• when we lust in our hearts
• in how we look to other people to meet our emotional needs
• when we break our marriage vows
Note: as a counselor, I also see how pornography can actually be a type of "sexual addition" which means it is in the family of addictive behavior. I would want to discuss this and share some more information about sex and sexual addictions if anyone would like to understand this disorder more fully.
3d. My husband's parents were older when they had children and because of their age they weren't very "involved" parents when he was growing up. Now I'm starting to see my husband having some of the same tendencies. How do men learn how to be Dads if their Dad wasn't a very good one? And how do I approach this topic with my husband without him feeling hurt?
A--There is no perfect prescribed pattern which must be followed by every Christian family. There are many ways that God can lead families. Each can have unique roles and rules. However, Christians love to be able to follow "checklists" in our approaches to having a quiet time, raising kids, church doctrines. Yet, we need to be careful about buying into the current Christian philosophy of ... "it has to look like this" for us to prove to God, ourselves and our other Christian friends that we really are "real" Christians ... who are rearing "real" Christian children. The older I get and the older my children get, I realize how much pressure Christian parents put on themselves to rear perfect children which, when you think about it...is a truly impossible task.
Your husband's approach may be based on what his parents did. However, his views may be based on his personal temperament (i.e, is he a really laid back guy?) His lack of involvement could be because he is depressed or just plain stressed about work and being a good provider for the family. He may just have a different view point. He may believe that too much of today's world in the U.S. culture is based on our children and their schedules and afterschool activities.
I think I would ask... what do couples do when their views and values differ about the kids, finances, sex, home maintenance do not line up? Do you try to meet each other in the middle or dialogue about your differences? This process is not a perfect process. Oneness in marriage takes a long time in some cases.
I think that God wants us to accept where another person "is" and then, pray that if God wants to change that person or modify that person's values that He will do it. Our job is to pray for ourselves to make sure that our hearts are in a Godly / right place. We need to lead or interact with each other with love toward the other person and obedience to God about intentionally loving that other person. We can "ask" another person to agree with, go along with, and/or share our values and goals but we can not make another person change. The interesting thing, if not ironic truth, is that when people are loved and accepted where they are, they tend to be open to the ideas of others and more willing to change. (Go figure!)
In our "human ways", we tend to want to make another person do what we want or what we think is "right". We are prideful and judgmental and controlling and manipulative. We are not necessarily "mean" about it. It is just some of the ways we have learned to make life work and to get our needs and desires met. It just isn't always the most productive way to do it nor is it God's way. I think that we can ask a person to think about what we value and what we desire, but the bottom line is we need to accept them where they are. We can ask our husbands to go with us to the game or practice. We could tell them that we miss them when they are not there. We could report to them or the child could report to them that it is neat when dad is there.
However, I don't think God approves of manipulation of any kind. Usually, when one manipulated they back away from us and from being open to our ideas and desires. Open discussions and/or Inviting others to join us is better than manipulating, judging, or trying heavy persuasion or control tactics. (Plus, if our ways or ideas are so fabulous, why on earth would we even need to manipulate or cajole others into doing what we want. Doesn't TRUTH speak for itself?)
3e. At the end of the day, I am exhausted from being at home with my kids and managing all that goes along with being a stay-at-home mom. When my husband comes home, he sees and feels my frustration and thinks that I am not happy. How do I help him understand that just because I'm sick of picking up toys for the 1000th time or cleaning up tee-tee off the floor for the 4th time that day that it doesn't mean I don't enjoy the life he is providing for me and my children...it's just that I've been at home with 3 young children for the whole day and need a break?
A--The most obvious answer is for you to consistently reassure him that you are indeed happy with the life you guys have. You love him, you love your kids, you love your life. Explain that when kids are "little" there are a lot of demands that just are not fun. Cleaning up spilled milk or fruit juice or urine isn't on any one's top five list of things to do for that today. You know what I mean!
However, there are some instrinsicly beautiful things about being the mom of young children. The way they look at you (when they are happy). How cute they are to look at (especially when they are sleeping...). They way they can so easily tell us they love us. They way they hug us and want to help us when they see that we are struggling or upset. ("It's ok mommy. I love you... " type of momemts.)
The truth is, at every stage of life there are some really good things about that particular stage and there are some hard things. When kids are young, it is physically demanding. When kids are teenagers and driving the car and leaving your physical presence, it is nerve racking. The same could be said about every stage in marriage for that matter. At each stage we just need to focus more on the positive aspects of that particular time in our lives than we do the negative, demanding aspects of them.
I would ask you a couple of questions. Are you presenting the difficulties of the day with your young kids as a means of getting your husbands attention or even possibly sympathy? You would not consciously be doing this most probably. But if you look deeply inside your soul and ask if you are part of the reason why your husband is so distraught about your situation, then, you could go about getting your needs met in a more positive way. Ponder this. God will show you and confirm it to you.
Another question I'd like to ask is... Is your husband taking too much responsibility for the quality of your life? Is he owning your sense of well-being? Is he thinking that he could or should be making your life better somehow? He could be a little "co-dependent" about your life and that he is to blame for you not doing well. This could be something that you guys could talk about. Reassure your husband that you are responsible for you personal sense of well-being. If you are happy, it is because of how you choose to think, and act, and feel and how you choose to assess/see your life. If you are depressed and miserable... you need to take responsibilty for the quality of your life. (Of course, we can be sad or anxious because of brain chemistry but a lot of our quality of life is because of the perspective we have about things. Just food for thought.)
3f. Where is the line between venting to a friend because you're upset with your husband and being a "grumbling or nagging wife"?
A--I was with a friend recently and when she started talking about an issue with her husband, she was very, very careful to not put her husband in a "bad" light. She was quite intentional about protecting him and his reputation in my presence. I liked how she handled herself.
I've been around other women/wives who bashed their husbands so much that one could grow to see their husbands in a negative light. That "negative light" perspective can get so strong that it can become difficult for one to shake that perception of the person being talked about.
I think that it is good to have at least one person with whom you can be totally honest with about the difficulties you have with a spouse. However, we do need to be careful not to go too far.
This is one of those times when I would go to God. I would ask the Father if He believes that you have grumbled too much or if you have nagged too much or if you have disclosed too much to your friends. God will convict you. Evaluate or assess how your friends are seeing your spouse. If they are still thinking badly of him even after you and he have resolved your issue, then perhaps, you did go too far in "bashing" him. If the Lord does convict you about this, you will be able to make an adjustment.
3g. My husband has a female co-worker who likes to discuss boyfriend problems with him. She seems to find comfort in discussing personal things with him. I feel uncomfortable with this but my husband thinks I just don't trust him. My parents are divorced so my husband thinks that I'm too worried the same thing could happen to us. Am I wrong to be concerned about this?
A--First, I really would like to know a little more information on this one. However, if I take the question purely at face value, the following thoughts come to mind.
Generally, it is not a good idea for opposite sex co-workers (or even same sex co-workers ... for that matter) to share tons and tons of personal information with each other at work. It is not professional. People go to "work" to "work". (However, it will carry very little weight if you walk up to anyone and say, "Well, Murphy Toerner said that..." So, we don't want to just resort to that as our reason for not doing something.
• is your husband easy to talk with
• he is "wise"...does he generally give good counsel
• does he feel valued or needed in this situation
• is he a spiritual person who wants to share God's perspectives on things
• is he naive
• is he absolutely devoted to you and keeping his commitment to you in marriage
• is he a flirt
• is this other woman a flirt
• are you insecure
• are you jealous
• do you have a history of "over-reacting"
• has he engaged in this type of dynamic before
• has he ever given you "hard evidence" reasons to doubt his fidelity
• does he minimize your perspectives on things
• if you communicate your concerns, does he usually give heed to them and value them and change accordingly
I know in my own marriage and in my own life, God often wants me to examine myself. Sometimes I can be insecure because deep down I am or at least I can operate out of old insecure feelings. I would want to ask you, are you willing to LOOK at yourself? Is your husband willing to LOOK at himself?
In my marriage, my husband will usually listen to my thoughts and opinions. When I am concerned and/or afraid he usually is responsive to me even when he does not fully agree with how I am feeling or how I am thinking.
From your husband's point of view, if he sincerely believes that NOTHING is going on here and that he has done absolutely NOTHING wrong, he will not understand what you are thinking and feeling (concerning his talking with the femail co-worker). If he is feeling valued in this situation at work, he probably will not be that willing to change things because it is a source of good feelings for him.
The truth is...we don't know if something inappropriate is going on. We just know that there is a potential for something to happen here if they are not "sober and alert". One thing that I would do, if I were you. I would be very intentional about showing my husband how much "I" value him. Show him that he is important to me and our family. I would want to try to meet any needs that I can at home so he may not be as susceptible to the emotional needs or manipulations of other women (anywhere in his life.)
About the author
Murphy Toerner is a Christian counselor in private practice in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is a writer and retreat speaker. If you would like to know more about Murphy and her various retreats, please go to: www.murphytoerner.com
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