Putting On the Big Boy Pants
Encountering limits and experiencing boundaries are reality checks. We need limits as they remind us that our reality is in fact bigger than just ourselves.
While it might be a rude awakening if a particular spouse is in the mood and starting to put the moves on and they are met with, “You know, I just really don’t want to right now because I’m…..” or “I’m really not feeling that great…” or “I’m not sure I can right because I feel like we need to finish that discussion we had earlier and I can’t be close until we resolve that.”
Initially it might be a buzzkill, but in the bigger picture it can be reality giving you a cold slap to the face, reminding you that your burning desires and the sexual feelings you have in the moment aren’t the only thing going on in the world. We need to be slapped by reality sometimes. Some of us are far too crafty in our efforts to avoid reality and we need it to find us and wake us up if we’re getting a little too insular in our perspective on life and marriage in this example.
But we’re talking on some level about rejection. More than building resolve and serving as a catalyst to a husband to be a student of his wife, being told no when you’re putting the moves on can be pretty developmental in other ways – identifying areas of insecurity or pride being some of them.
Those buying in that we ought not ever reject our spouse amidst sexual initiation (according to some teachings on 1 Cor 7 which I’ll address in a few days) create a dynamic in which the husband especially never has to deal with his own security as a person and a man. When he wants sex, he gets it. He can feel comfortable in his own world of his own desires without ever really having to be ok when he doesn’t get his way all the time. There are men whose ego’s are riding pole position in their marriage and all the dynamics are designed to support that ego. These are men who hear these types of marriage teachings and feel validated for their “rights” as a man.
You know what this reminds me of – raising my young kids. What happens if my kids always get what they want and they never learn to be ok with disappointment and not getting what they want in the moment – their heads get big and they become more self-centered and demand more. They need to hear “No” a lot because they have to learn how to balance their own desires with the desires of others and the limitations that often exist in getting what you want.
There’s a pattern to some of the leaders and ministers that flame out later in life for some kind of moral failure or character issues – usually they were coddled a lot and often they had wives who instead of helping their husbands become stronger and more accountable, they enabled their husbands through unconditional cheerleading and refusing to do anything that wounds the ego. Some get wrapped up in the success of their spouse and things become about image and performing rather than strengthening the relationship and marriage in a mutually transforming way.
When my wife says no to sex or no to a host of other things I might want to do that she feels strongly about, I believe she’s helping me become a better leader when she sets limits with me. She’s helping me live within my personal and family limits.
So you know what we as men (and sometimes women too) need to do when our sexual mojo doesn’t get the results we might want in the moment?
We need to go put our big boy pants on and figure out an alternative way to connect with our spouses or we need to go find something else to do besides brooding or pouting. I believe there’s a connection between our capacity to stay secure in our relationships and handle “No’s” in both the personal and professional contexts. If we can handle “No’s” without making it all about us in marriage – we’ll be able to demonstrate those same dynamics in our work relationships.
Related to this, my suspicions for a while have been that those I see not being able to work with strong female leaders are coming from marriages in which their marital “system” doesn’t allow for a lot of no’s to the male ego. They aren’t used to hearing “No” from women and therefore such leaders aren’t secure enough to lead WITH leaders of BOTH genders – especially ones that will say “No.” Just an observation that at this point seems to me to be a pattern, but I’ll leave that for another day.
Never say no to your spouse’s sexual initiation as a teaching in my mind reinforces a Napoleon complex for husbands. Little dudes wearing big hats expecting everyone to fall in line with their will. I think God’s design for marriage and sex in marriage aims a little higher than that.
So let’s exchange our Napoleon’s hats for our big boy pants and embrace adult and peer dynamics in marriage. Because one of the fruits of our marriages should be that we become more mature and better leaders – in our families and in our vocations.