This morning I decided to continue the campaign in the War for Intimacy. This is the sort of war where you can’t wait for the other side to come to you, you have to go to them. And so it was. I began the morning thinking about exactly what I was going to do. Arwyn was in the shower, and I was laying in bed thinking about possible moves. I could join her (and get shooed off), I could wait for her to finish, and then come in. I could stay where I was and stroke myself off, which is what I really wanted to do since it’s been several days. The first choice expired as the water turned off, so I chose the second. I went into the bathroom as she was toweling off. While I brushed my teeth, she was combing her hair and trying to get dressed as quickly as possible. I gave her a hug that didn’t violate any of the touching rules and she gave me a quick kiss and scrambled out to begin the day. Then, only after she was gone, I stroked myself off. By the time I finished shaving and showering, the boys were on the bus and she was doing laundry stuff. We made a bit of small talk and then she went to hang stuff up while I finished eating. I followed her into the one of the boy’s rooms and there the battle began in earnest.
“Are you mad at me?” This is a typical opening move for me, because it does seem like she is perpetually angry at me, at least in her body language. She said she wasn’t, but she is always in a hurry in the mornings.
“Even for two minutes?”
“Well,” she said, “We can always talk after the boys get on the bus.”
I told her that this was for only 2 days a week, and that was unacceptable. I used the word “unacceptable” which seemed to throw her for a bit of a loop. Several times during our conversation/argument she told me to just leave and go to work. But I stood my ground. We needed to clear the decks.
I asked her if this is the way she wanted to live for the next 20-30 years and she said definitely not. I asked her what she was planning on doing about it, and she said she didn’t know. I told her that was unacceptable. She said she didn’t know if she wanted to keep trying. I said I was committed to continue trying to work things out, and that God hadn’t given me permission to step off, so I was going to keep at it. I was not going to just let things continue on this decaying trajectory until we both just withered away.
She said that all I ever think about was sex and commented on how absolutely selfish I was. I about laid an egg and coughed up a hairball on that one.
“When was the last time we had sex?” I asked.
“I don’t know. And I don’t really care because I just don’t want it.”
“When was the last time I asked you or pressured you for sex?”
She admitted that I had not been after her very much and went on to complain about me staying up and writing/reading all night. I returned fire with a complaint about her going to bed at 8 o’clock. “What do you expect me to do?”
This question was largely rhetorical. I told her that I was tired of being alone. I write because I feel like I am alone. I am lonely. She goes to bed at 8 and does not want to have anything to do with me. What am I supposed to do? I told her that sex once every 6 months was unacceptable. “Hurry-up-and-get-it-over-with” sex is unacceptable. She didn’t start bawling but was on the verge of tears the entire time. I told her I care enough to have this confrontation. We both HATE confrontations which is why this thing festers so often and for so long.
In Genesis, god creates the earth, the universe and all life. He creates a lovely garden. After each act of creation, he pronounces it good. He makes the stars and moon and says it is good. He creates the earth and says it is good. When he creates man, he says it is very good. Everything on the earth and in the garden is either good or very good. It was paradise. It was perfect. Except for one thing. There was one thing in the garden that was NOT good. Can you guess what it was?
No, it wasn’t the serpent. The serpent had yet to make an appearance at the one, single point where God pointed out that everything was good and perfect except for one thing. He said:
“It is not good for man to be alone.”
This seems like a funny thing for God to say, in hindsight. I mean, God was there! Was man really and truly alone? This is what church leaders and thoelogans like telling single people or folks in bad relationships. God is sufficient. But God, Himself, declared that it was not good for man to be alone. Interesting enough, God does try to negotiate some compromise in the deal by letting Adam name all of the animals. Maybe He was hoping a suitable companion might be found among them. But God quickly saw that these would not do. So, he put Adam to sleep, and formed a woman out of one of Adam’s ribs. A sort of cloning, if you will. Adam woke up and said “YOWZA! Bones of my bones and flesh of my flesh!”
Being alone is not good. Even in paradise. God said it straight away, almost as soon as he created man. We were not made to be alone. Notice that God did not take an extra rib, break it in half and then create some children for Eve. He could have. But God’s plan went far beyond children. The first teaching he ever gave them was that they would leave their father and mother and become one flesh. He didn’t say one spirit. He didn’t say one family. He didn’t say one village or one nation or one mind or one soul or one anything else. One flesh. What in the world was God taking about? Surely He couldn’t be talking about…SEX? No way!
This teaching is before the whole bit about being fruitful and multiplying. They are not mentioned in the same sentence or even the same paragraph. Sex was NOT about procreation. It was about intimacy, sharing, and unity.
This same section makes another point: they were naked and unashamed. The first thing these two characters did after eating the fruit was to hide themselves from God and hide themselves from their nakedness. God says, “What are you doing?”
They reply, “We were hiding because we were naked.”
Clearly, being naked and unashamed is closer to the original plan that God set before us than rather than being ashamed of our own bodies. Today, we do practice modesty but it is more for the sake of others rather than ourselves. Any guy who whips out his junk is going to get arrested! But in front of our spouses, in front of the one with whom we are supposed to be one flesh, this shame has absolutely no place. The insecurity people have over their own bodies is surely a scourge born in the Garden of Eden. Even didn’t want God or Adam to see that her butt was too fat. Adam was afraid Eve would laugh at his small penis.
Arwyn’s hang ups can probably be traced back to some form of insecurity. Those hang ups have become mine because we are supposed to be one flesh. Not that this union has been consummated with any sort of frequency lately. Without regularly reinforcing this bond, it is inevitable that it begins to weaken.
It’s not just about sex. But try going without food for 48 hours. What are you going to be thinking about? Oh, and every time to mention food or complain about how hungry you are, we add an extra day to your fast. And right before breaking the fast, we need to have a long talk about your obsession with food. Then we are going to break that fast with a buffet consisting of one glass of water and one slice of bread. Be nice and I might make it whole wheat. And if that is received with anything less than complete enthusiasm and gratitude, then we’re going on another fast. If you express appreciation, I might give you another slice of bread the next day. Kiss my ass extra tenderly and I’ll let you have some butter on your bread. If you get greedy, then I’m cutting back again because we don’t need you getting spoiled and getting a fat ass. Remember what happened to Eve?
Does this sound like God’s plan? Neither is it His plan that we simply bail when things get rough and hectic. If there was ever a couple who could have used counseling and cause to see a divorce attorney, it was Adam and Eve. She listened to the snake. He let her listen to the snake, instead of calling the exterminator. They both stood before God and heard Adam blame Eve, and then Eve blamed the snake. They got cursed and thrown out of paradise and spent the rest of their days carrying the guilt of screwing up the entire human race and all creation up. Later, one of their children murders the other. Talk about your marital stress! And they lived hundreds of years. Can you imagine carrying emotional baggage over a period of centuries??
Just comparing them to me makes me feel better already. Also, giving myself permission to decide what is and is not acceptable is also a positive step for me. I partially credit Supernanny for inspiring that one.