I was asked to respond to a woman’s anonymous comment on the site Biblical Gender Roles. The full post is here, and below is the woman’s situation in her own words in italics, along with my responses in normal text.
The Undated Wife
“I have read many of the posts on your site and I agree with some things you say. I agree that women should not deny sex to their husbands and I do not deny sex to my husband, although there are many times I don’t feel like having sex with him.
But I think you miss the fact that women have an equal right to be dated by their husbands. Why do men think that dating is just before marriage? Why do men stop dating their wives after they get married?
While it is very nice and definitely helps to keep the romance alive in the relationship to continue going out on “dates” while married, there is absolutely no where in the Bible where women are guaranteed that kind of romantic situation. Even throughout history, married couples needed to focus more on working well together, each carrying their own load, rather than on romance in the marriage. I’m not trying to be overly harsh, but this reeks of a selfish attitude saying that women have “an equal right to be dated by their husbands.” I’ve never seen or heard that line before, it is not biblical like the partners’ right to sex is. The Bible clearly states that neither partner should deny sex to the other, unless it is mutually decided on (consensual) and for only a short period of time; however, no where will you find the Bible outlining that couples should not deny each other romance or regular dates.
So this statement you believe is true, that women have some kind of right to be taken out on dates that is equal to the right of having sex in a marriage is biblically false and has no foundation. It is great if your husband would date you once a week, take you out several times a year on couples’ get-aways, or being able to finance family vacations once or twice a year. These are privileges that are based on your husband’s being able to afford them financially and time-wise, though, not considered rights that you can use to berate him with.
Let me give you a little bit of background to my situation. I married my husband about 8 years ago, we were both divorced. I had no children from my previous marriage (I am unable to have children). He had three kids from a previous marriage that he has joint custody of. Now they are all teenagers. I love his kids and they love me.
We’ve been married 8 years as well, so I like that I can at least relate to having spent the same time in our marriages. To give you a little background about me, my husband and I got married very young – I was 20, about to turn 21, and he was 22. We were not your standard early 20 year olds, however, we (especially he) were a little bit more mature. I’m so glad that you have been able to create the kind of relationship with his kids so that they love you! With blended families where there are stepchildren, that is so crucial to a happy home life.
I am a stay at home wife.
Me, too, for now.
My husband says he loves me. He is a good provider. He is a good father to our children. But he works all the time. Even when he comes home from the office, he takes his laptop out many times and continues to read and answer emails all evening long. The only time he seems to carve out anytime is when his kids come to our house. Then he spends time with them. In fact sometimes I feel like the minute his kids arrive I am not even there.
Try not to go into victim mode/victim mentality here and give in to the selfish attitude of throwing yourself a pity party. Let’s count your blessings so that we can stay in perspective: you have a husband who sounds like a good, decent man when many other women in this world are lonely. I actually know many women right now in my own sphere that are single and would kill to be in your position with a husband to love and do life with, and children to bless and to mother. Another blessing is that your husband is a “good provider,” what a praise to have this in a world of men who are rejecting women and marriage altogether! You have a man that is willing to bust his ass for you, who is driven and motivated! We as women tend to feel sorry for ourselves whenever anything big or small tends to throw off our plans or expectations of how things should go. Think of the women of the past, they truly had it tough, and they were never guaranteed going out once a week on romantic dates – that would have been entirely foreign to them and they would think of us as wimps! They would never have complained or nagged or whined about feeling neglected because their husbands didn’t take them out for dates.
The women of the past, however, didn’t have our modern day female sense of entitlement. When they entered a marriage, they entered it understanding that they were going to have to work within it – both physically but also emotionally in order to keep a good healthy marriage. They had the mentality of “what am I willing to do and what do I bring to a marriage,” whereas we all too often have the attitude of, “what’s in it for me?” and “What will I get out of this arrangement?” The women of the past that made happy marriages were keen on keeping things in perspective. If they had a good man for a husband, children to love (even if they were his from another marriage), a roof over their heads, and food on their table, they were content. I remember reading and studying old letters and article clippings of the Victorian age where wives wrote in to describe their individual marriages. The happy wives didn’t put all the romance responsibility onto their husbands, but the unhappy ones wrote pieces like your comment to BiblicalGenderRoles, only focusing on how unhappy they were because he was lacking in some way. Many had to get creative and romance their husbands indoors (romantic evenings by the fire, with a cup of tea, snuggled together, and always always the happy ones wrote about keeping their sex lives alive). At least you can be comforted that even back then, a marriage’s happiness strongly correlated with the wife’s ability to be optimistic and make the most of things, or throw herself a pity party focusing on her husband’s flaws and how hard she has it.
A word about your husband spending all his time with his children:
If he doesn’t have full custody of his children, then it is crucial to spend all the time he can with them when he does have them. They are “all teenagers” as you said, so their time out of the house is coming very soon, you will be able to have him all to yourself as empty nesters in about 5 years more than likely. But yes, he created them before you, and they are his priority number one until they turn 18. You are not. I’m sorry if this is hard for you to hear, many step-moms don’t understand a father’s responsibility and duty to his kids and become resentful that he feels more obligated to them than to her. It simply is the way it is, you chose a man who had children before you.
There are times when he realizes he has not been paying enough attention to me and purposefully does not take out his laptop. We just sit and talk or watch some TV together. But I have told him I feel he needs to make more of an effort to date me. He needs to take me out to dinner more, he needs to take me to the movies. He should be taking me on weekend getaways several times a year like he did many years ago. He has turned into a “homebody” – he is fine with just being home with me and the kids.
This is great that he is willing to admit that he’s not spending enough quality time with you, but instead of waiting for him to feel guilty (and you feeling neglected), why don’t you have a sit down talk at a convenient time where you let him know that instead of him having to feel guilty about it, and instead of you feel resentful or nagging him, that you both can instead work to create a schedule where time spent together alone is written in on a calendar or marked somewhere you two can remember. This can be very simple – don’t overcomplicate it! Just simply write in on the calendar twice a week where you two spend at least 1 hour together focusing on the relationship and on each other. Simple. Easy. Done!
Dates for us have never had to be going out somewhere to do something, they can even be taking a walk together around the neighborhood, going for a run together (working out together is one of my favorite quality times with my hubby), watching a movie on the couch together, making a special dinner together, or just talking one on one about deep issues we’re interested in.
I said he is a good provider and good father. I don’t feel he is a good husband to me. I always feel like his kids and his job come first, and I am always last on his “to do list”. Sure when I say something to him about feeling neglected – he will try for a while to talk with me more, and he might even take me out once in a great while. But I want more! Don’t I deserve to be his number priority? Why do I always have to feel like I am second to his job or the kids?
A good husband cares about you and your needs, this man sounds like he cares and is willing to take your feelings into account. Be grateful for this! There are women who are actually married to bad husbands – men who truly don’t care about meeting their needs, don’t care about their feelings, etc. Your husband, by your account of him, sounds very good to me. Be careful about constantly giving him an F on his report card, when other women would look at your life and at him, and give him an A. That is how good men go astray, when they’re honestly trying, honestly caring, and doing the best they know how, but their wife for some reason wants to focus on something minor (like date nights) and ruin the entire marriage over it by saying he’s a “bad husband” to her.
Goodness woman, he is a good husband. Be thankful for him, be thankful for his being attune to your feelings and needs. Just simply help him to meet them by doing what I stated before – scheduling in 2x per week some alone time and romance so that you can feel loved. Do not be a martyr by trying to say he should be the one being romantic, remember and think on the women of the past and how they had to deal with a lot more – physically, mentally and emotionally stressful situations that don’t even compare to the frivolity that we enjoy now.
I got him to go to counseling with our Pastor whom he respects. Our pastor told him he needed to date me, he needed to take me out once a week. He need to take me on a weekend getaway at least twice a year. My husband MAYBE might take me out once a month on date. He has not taken me on a weekend getaway in a year and half. He says we don’t have enough money for trips right now and I just have to be patient (we had to cancel our family vacation this summer because of finances). He tells me things will get better financially in a couple years after we pay off the debt. A couple years!!!!! If something is important to you – you make it happen. But again I am not as important to him as his job or his kids. God says a wife is to be her husband’s number one priority right? That means I come before everything – his kids, his job.
Oh my… bringing in the Pastor who he respects to tell him to “man up” and do something that’s not even biblically mandated is a bit much in my opinion. And telling him he needs to take you on a weekend get-away at least 2x per year… this just reeks of self-entitlement. Now let’s get into the part where you start complaining about what he hasn’t done for you:
My husband MAYBE might take me out once a month on date.
That’s like us… we would love to do it once a week, but we’ve never been able to plan it well enough with a babysitter to get that kind of experience. Sometimes we’ve even gone months without a date night, in fact, our last date night (before our vacation last week) was in April or May!!! I make sure that we spend enough alone time and have enough romance though, so that I don’t feel neglected. I don’t whine about not having a monthly date night (even though we mean to), I don’t make him feel like a bad husband for it, and I don’t put extra stress or pressure on him when I know I can get my relational and emotional needs met by simply making sure it happens instead of playing the martyr and expecting him to be perfect.
My husband has an incredibly stressful job – and yes, it is a job where he does not get to spend as much time with me as I would prefer, but as his wife, it is my duty and responsibility to make sure our home life runs well, that our children are doing great, that everything is going smoothly. I’m also responsible for my own happiness. He is not responsible for that, and he is not a bad husband even though he doesn’t have the time to make a date night every month or would never remember on his own, to schedule needed romantic time or alone time together. That’s just being a man 🙂 sometimes men need help meeting their wife’s needs, there’s nothing wrong with you pleasantly and sweetly reminding him that you love spending time with him and being romantic – that you need this to feel secure in the marriage.
He has not taken me on a weekend getaway in a year and half.
I haven’t been on a weekend getaway with my hubby in 3 years now. It was a beautiful experience, and yes, I’d love to be able to do it even once a year (let alone the twice you’re complaining your husband isn’t providing for you), but financially, we’ve never before been able to handle that. You marriage and his quality as a husband should not depend on whether or not he is dating you regularly, or is able to take you on weekend get-aways twice a year. Again, it is simply selfish entitlement.
He says we don’t have enough money for trips right now and I just have to be patient (we had to cancel our family vacation this summer because of finances). He tells me things will get better financially in a couple years after we pay off the debt. A couple years!!!!! If something is important to you – you make it happen. But again I am not as important to him as his job or his kids. God says a wife is to be her husband’s number one priority right?
Aye, woman! Can you hear yourself and how selfish you sound? Again, think of the women of the past, how they understood that when they entered into a marriage, that they focused on what they could bring to it. We have never been able to afford a family vacation in 8 years… this is our first one ever that we had a week ago, and it was truly wonderful. But all these years, I never dared made my husband feel less than because of his not being able to afford one, I can’t imagine how that would have crushed his ego and self-esteem, making him feel like a failure. My husband was busting his ass all these years ensuring we were staying afloat – we’ve both put each other through school or training – taking turns supporting each other and working for the benefit of the marriage. Did it suck that we couldn’t afford weekend get-aways twice a year, or family vacations (ever)? Yes, but we never complained to each other about it – if we ever did lament the fact, it was not in a way of blaming each other for it.
I hope you can see that this is a problem that you have, an underlying heart issue of not focusing on your blessings and not working to create the kind of marriage YOU desire (the romance). You have a problem of being selfish here, even dragging your husband to a Pastor so that he can feel spiritually mandated to cater to your extreme self-entitlement issues.
Be joyful that your husband takes debt seriously! Be joyful that he is working on a plan to get rid of any debt that ya’ll have! Be joyful that you’ll be able to get out of it “in a couple of years!” These are all things to praise God for and reallign your attitude about!
I read your post on how a man is to know his wife – I almost cried when I read it because I want that from my husband. I want to feel like his number one priority.
Then romance him. Set aside time 2x per week to romance him purposefully, create the life you want, the romantic marriage you desire with him. Don’t play the martyr, crying about how things aren’t meeting your expectations and falling into your lap. Make the best of what you have, and be thankful for your blessings.
I just feel like all I am here for is to do his and his kids laundry, cook for them and drive them places, and of course have sex with him.
I feel more like a maid and a sex slave than his wife!
With all the news coming out about the Yazidi women, I think you seriously need to read and watch some of the videos about what it is truly like to be a real sex slave. Again, this is playing the martyr, it’s not healthy for you, its not healthy for your marriage, it’s not helping your husband, and it’s not creating the kind of environment you want for your kids to be in.
Can you maybe write a post about husbands loving their wives before everything else? Can you write about how God wants men to date their wives? Isn’t that what loving your wife is? To date her, to make her feel like she is your number one priority?”
I hope this helped you to maybe think about your situation from a different perspective. Again, it sounds like we are and have been, in much the same circumstance, and yet, I’ve chosen to respond completely opposite from how you have.
If you feel up to it, make a list of all the incredible blessings you have in your life, put it in a nice journal that you can keep on your nightstand. Each night, I want you to open that journal and re-read your blessings, thanking God for giving you each and every one. Each night, I want you to add 1 more blessing to your list, pray over your list every night. Even (if you feel comfortable enough) ask your hubby to pray with you, let him listen to you thanking God for all that you’ve been given.