Confession: Sex used to give me so much power over my husband. I would freely portion it out and get pretty much anything I wanted.
If it had been a long day at the office and I was exhausted, I knew that if I hinted to my husband that he might get lucky later then he would be much more willing to give our baby a bath or help with supper. A few long kisses and he might even help wash the dishes.
Of course, I would have to actually go through with the promise, or my methods wouldn’t continue to work. It was a small price to pay for control.
And when he ticked me off or was less than helpful? I would have a continual headache or cramps. I gave every excuse possible to keep him from touching me.
My manipulation went both ways: I would give it out to get what I wanted, and I would withhold to show him that I didn’t appreciate the way I’d been treated.
Sadly, that’s the way I used to live.
It took a while to admit it to myself but, deep down, I knew what I was doing.
Manipulation really shouldn’t have a place in marriage at all, especially in the marriage bed, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only wife around who knows that it plays a part, whether we like it or not.
It’s normal in any marriage for there to be a “desire gap” where, at any given time, one spouse has more of a desire for sex than the other. In that sense, the one with the least desire is the one with the most control. Obviously this could be either husband or wife, but in 89% of marriages it’s the wife. (Okay, I made up that statistic, but I’m fairly certain it’s at least that much).
We can sink our marriages with that manipulative power.
God didn’t give us sex to wield as a weapon in our marriages. I’ve never found a verse that reads, “Your body is your own, only use it when it’s beneficial to you.” In fact, just like in so many other areas of scripture, God’s ideas are contrary to our normal way of thinking:
“The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:4-5, NIV)
Neither one of us should withhold from the other as a show of power. My body is his, his body is mine, and we are not to deprive each other of what we need.
Anne Gagliano says, “Using sex as a weapon turns intimacy into warfare. In seeking ‘to win,’ both men and women will lose. Trying to manipulate your partner will only drive the partner away.”
When did I let something as beautiful and intimate as sex become a war that I needed to win?
There are still moments when I’m tempted to punish or reward my husband based on my moods, but after years of struggle I finally realized that sex should never be a trump card. Sexual intimacy was created to draw us together, not to push us farther apart.
And the more I use it in my favor, the more it hurts my husband and—ironically enough—the more it hurts me.