Over the past several months, we’ve been looking closer at the different “altars” upon which many married couples sacrifice their sexual intimacy.
I’m thrilled to have Stu and Lisa Gray of Stupendous Marriage adding to our altar series. Such great insights! (If you missed the other “altars” we’ve explored so far, be sure to read the entire post and you’ll find the links at the end).
photo by Auzigog
Bartering can be a good thing for a marriage.
It’s a communication tool that allows you to figure out how to navigate situations where one of you might be more willing to do something, while the other might not.
Example: “Do you want to bathe the child, or do you want to take out all the trash in the house, while I bathe the child?”
This is a harmless conversation that helps the two of you navigate certain things that have to happen in your household so that both of you keep your sanity.
But what happens when you start negotiating and bartering for intimacy in your marriage? It could become problematic.
1. If you are keeping a mental list of things your spouse has to do before you offer yourself to them, that’s performance-based love.
Our love, being Christians and a human representation of God’s love, isn’t supposed to look like the world.
The example that we get from the world about love kinda looks like this: “I have swoony-gushy feelings for this person, I think I’m in love — what are they going to do for me to show it?”
We’re supposed to demonstrate love like God did with us…Loving so much (before we were worthy, or checked anything off a list) that He sent His son to die.
2. If you haven’t shared what you would like your spouse to participate in and help with around the house, you are keeping expectations that he can NEVER meet.
Expectations are strong beliefs that something will happen in the future.
If you keep the list to yourself, and just think your spouse will read your mind — it’s not going to happen. Which will lead you to resentment. And will probably lead him to resentment too, because you are expecting him to read your mind, and he can’t.
3. Trading work, or things checked off a list, from your spouse for sex, isn’t love.
That’s closer to prostitution. (you know, like when someone pays for sexual acts with someone.)
Sex should be something that is an overflow of your marriage, not something that has too meet a certain “mental requirement” before it ever happens.
4. The list of things you could barter for sex with your spouse is never ending.
We live in a world of stuff. We all have it, and sometimes it can seem like our stuff can overtake us. Sometimes we have to stop telling ourselves the lie that “If all this stuff gets done, THEN I’ll be ready for sex.”
Instead, more often than not, we need to have sex with our spouse regardless of their performance, or how many dishes are left out, how many clothes need folding, or how long the grass in the yard is.
Life keeps happening.
And if we keep putting off sex because other things get in the way, the intimacy might begin to chill in your marriage.
So how do you keep from Bartering away your sex life?
*Put away the list. Stop making him do things before you decide you will be intimate with him. Let some things go, lower expectations, and love first.
*Talk about your desires. Tell him what you want and desire, what will help you feel loved by him. Ask him questions about what he desires from you. Maybe start with “How can I be a better wife?“
*Remember the good things. After a time of mental list building, and then your spouse not meeting up to your list, there could be some resentment growing like fungus in the recesses of your brain. (it might be covering the whole frontal lobe by now, who knows?)
You have to clear that stuff out by taking time why you fell in love with your spouse in the first place. Relive your first date, talk about how you met, why you fell in love, and what you love about them now.
Is bartering your sex life away something that you deal with in your marriage? How’s that working for ya?
And be sure to ask yourself if you’ve been sacrificing your sexual intimacy on any of these other altars:
Copyright 2011. Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.