Q: My husband tells me all I am good for is sex. He tells me to that it is my duty as his wife to have sex or to do other sexual things with him whenever he wants it, but he does not respect me. He makes jokes about me and insults me in front of other people and my children (including things that I have told him during intimate times about our sex life). I do not feel comfortable having sex with him, being intimate, or even just telling him my feelings for fear that he will bring it up to other people as a joke. When I have confronted him and asked him please not to do this, he denies it or says that I should hear what the guys at his work say about their wives. We have a lot of other problems as well, which all boil down to his lack of respect of me, but his main complaint is that I don’t give him sex when he wants it. I have filed for divorce, but am considering going to a marriage retreat for couples in crisis. I want to fix my marriage, but I feel like when I talk to him he just gets mad and says I don’t do anything he wants me to.(referring to sex) I have tried and tried to explain to him that my lack of trust for him makes me uncomfortable in intimate situations where my guard is down, but he doesn’t seem to hear me. He just replies with “I don’t talk about you.” How should I handle this? I know that sex is an important part of a marriage, but how do I have sex with someone that thinks so little of me to insult me all the time? I have been in this marriage for 8 yrs. We got married, because I was pregnant and my husband has never treated me with respect even when we were dating. Should I try to save my marriage even though he always has put me down?
A: If a marriage can be salvaged, it should be salvaged. It’s great that you are willing to go a weekend for marriages in crisis. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I suggest you go to www.MarriageHelper.com and check out the weekend workshop that I personally lead for marriages in crisis.
However, a marriage cannot be good if one person feels disrespected by the other. We all want someone in our lives with whom we can feel safe sharing our secrets, our innermost thoughts, desires, and the like. The ideal is for that to occur in marriage. Yet you write that when you shared your innermost self with your husband, rather than protecting your secrets he broadcast them to others, denying he was doing anything wrong and even seeing humor in doing it. That is a terrible thing for anyone to do to another person, but especially the person you’re married to and supposed to “be there” for. You obviously cannot share any more of your thoughts or ideas with him unless you want the world to hear them. Be wise; don’t open up yourself to him until he learns how to be trustworthy.
As to sex, yes, it is part of the marriage agreement. Check 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 and you’ll see that God commanded it. However, what happens when one spouse violates the sanctity of the marriage bond but demands that the other spouse do whatever he wants? Reluctance, then resistance, and finally, refusing altogether. If he wishes you to do your “wifely duties,” then you have every right to demand that he be the leader and first do his “husbandly duties.” Tell him that when you can trust him again to share your innermost self, when he stops ridiculing you in private or public, and when he learns that you must be treated with respect and dignity, he can and will have a wonderful sex life with you. Of course, if you promise that and he does those things, you must do as you promised.
Though there is Biblical command for husband’s and wive’s to fulfill each other sexually, there are also Biblical commands for husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. Those commands are just as important, if not more so, than any concerning sex. You’re his wife, not his prostitute nor his sex slave. Demand that he treats you as a wife deserves to be treated and if he refuses, make him face the consequences of his behavior by doing whatever you need to do to have a life with dignity.