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Every marriage is unique with its own details, history, circumstances, plots and perplexities.
But today I want to talk about marriages where there are no huge struggles -- except for sexual intimacy.
One spouse wants sex more often. The other spouse couldn't care less about sex.
Maybe sex happens every now and then, but usually in these marriages, weeks or months will go by with no sex. Obligatory sex makes its appearance occasionally, just to keep the peace.
But eh, not always.
The refused spouse responds to the ongoing refusal by taking a practical approach. They logistically think that if they can just "win" their spouse over with good deeds and romantic gestures, the natural response from their disengaged spouse will be more sexual interest.
Sadly, that usually doesn't happen.
So then the refused spouse tries to address the issue in a more direct way through conversations or questions about "what may be wrong" or "why don't you want to have sex" and so forth.
This usually garners a bit of defensiveness from the spouse who is doing the refusing.
The spouse who doesn't see sex as a priority starts to throw into the arena questions like "Is that all you think about?" and "It's just about sex, isn't it?"
A back-and-forth battle ensues. it's intermittent, though, resulting in discouragement and anger, but rarely humility and hunger to draw close.
Classic passive aggressiveness from both sides may arrive on the scene too. Silent treatment. Manipulation. Withholding sex as a way to punish a spouse. Lack of respect. Sabotaging things that are important to one another.
The emotional chasm is like a sleeping giant just below the surface. It begins to define their new normal of little or no sex.
And then, if all of that doesn't compel some positive change, they arrive at a crossroads.
I say "they," but what I really mean is that one of them -- the rejected spouse -- has arrived at the crossroads. The spouse doing the refusing is oblivious that the crossroads is right beneath their feet (or right in the middle of their bed, as the case may be).
At this crossroads, the refused spouse makes a decision -- to either shut down completely sexually (setting up unspoken emotional distance and boundaries at the same time) OR to begin begging for sex.
That's usually the decision happening at the crossroads.
So, my question to you is, if the above scenario feels painfully and eerily familiar (like I'm literally describing what's going on in your marriage right now), what is happening at that crossroads?
Is the refused spouse shutting down? Or are they begging for sex?
Those two options are not good. Like not good in a "huge red flag" sort of way.
None of us stands at an altar and imagines a day when we will shut down emotionally and physically to our spouse. Or a day when we will have to beg -- literally beg -- for sex.
These are hard hard things. I know.
You may be the spouse doing the refusing. Or you may be the spouse being refused.
Regardless, the status quo is unsustainable.
My hope is that somehow the two of you will move TOGETHER toward healing and strengthening your marriage, including your sexual intimacy. This blog post may just be your wake up call.
So, wake up. Please wake up.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.