"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"
--Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)
Even as a Denied One, I have to admit, sometimes refusal is a no-brainer: Sick, injured, that time of the month and such, are pretty much things the other spouse has a duty to excuse, no questions asked. But how about on those other occasions? What do I consider refusal?
"You, funny man."
"Pervert. Don't you think of anything else?"
"I'm not in the mood."
"Why don't you take care of it yourself?"
"Again? We just did it last month."
And many, many others (I'm sure you have your own list.)
Refusal is a door that never opens or that gets slammed shut in your face. But once your hand is numb from all the fruitless knocking and your nose is bleeding from having that door slammed in your face once too many times, you start losing your enthusiasm and just want the pain to stop. Even if it means no more sex.
When matters have reached this point, we slowly start turning into something we don't want to be: our spouse. This is where I found myself two years ago.
Me and my bride are watching TV after the kids are asleep, when all of a sudden she gets up, turns off the TV and heads towards the bedroom, stripping off her clothes.
"Could you leave the light on," I ask her.
"Why? Aren't you coming?"
"Not yet. I want to get in some reading first."
"Read tomorrow. Hurry up; I thought you wanted sex."
It's a trick, I tell myself, be strong! "I'm too tired," I tell her, almost sweating with the effort.
"You said last week you wanted sex," she accuses, though, actually, it had been two weeks since I last said anything. And two and a half months since our last, brief, unsatisfactory encounter. But I wasn't stupid enough to point all that out (I do learn some things, after all.)
"I'm just too tired," I insist. She says something unpleasant and closes the bedroom door not softly (#3 is sleeping, so neither of us would dare slam the door.) I feel proud of myself. After leaving her be for a month, gently prodding for two weeks, and whining for two more, I had decided that complete abstinence would be easier than keeping this pattern going.
Of course, I had made this decision before. Many times. Hopelessly in vain. Because, regardless of how angry, sad, empty, used, worthless, unloved, rejected, etc. I might feel, my bride is still irresistible to me. But this time, I was strong!
Ten minutes later, the door opens loudly.
Something unpleasant, she says, then. "Are you coming or not?" she barks.
"Not in the mood," I say, feeling triumphant at finally throwing back those words. She says something even more unpleasant, virtually slamming the door closed.
Ten minutes more, and I'm feeling almost giddy at my new-found freedom. YES!
The door opens again. Very softly. I look up, ready for the coup-de-gras.
And I see my own pain in her eyes.
Don't feel like such a strong man now!
I can almost see Satan sitting in the far corner, fingers twitching in greedy anticipation at what I'll do next, so I begin to ponder on 1 Corinthians 7:3 and, of course, "never return evil for evil to anyone." And then on the correct meaning of render in 1 Corinthians 7:3. So I got up and rendered to my bride the affection she was due.
[Satan Exit Stage Down]
It was short and unfinished yet, somehow, we were both satisfied--if only for one night before the next cycle began. And I have never denied her since, nor will again. I will not subject the one I love to the pain I feel. Period (I hope you're not disappointed.)
What lessons did I learn?
First, that, even though she was refusing me, she still needed to know I was interested in her. She needed me to keep asking. That was the affection she was due, and when I stopped rendering it, she got scared and when I refused her, she was hurt.
And, second, that it was time for a change: I had taken my first step.
My prayers to you all.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net