Making Love Everyday: The Solution

After reading my previous post, The Diagnosis, you may have realized that you have some tendencies toward being a neurotic investor.  I hope that you were not too devastated by this realization, since practically everyone has these tendencies at times.  At the same time, this is an issue that must be taken very seriously if you hope to have a truly happy marriage. 

Now that you understand what the neurotic investor syndrome looks like in marriages, let’s get into the most important part of the issue; the solution.  How do you end this devastating cycle of hurt, withdrawal of love, and misery?  You begin by living according to the moral sense you were born with.  I realize that this may sound a bit philosophical, so let me put things into a more practical perspective.

 After having a long day of housework and taking care of the kids, Tammy is exhausted.  When her husband Eric comes home, Tammy immediately proceeds to tell him about how difficult her day was and asks him for a massage.  Eric, also feeling exhausted from a stressful day at work, asks if he can do it later, after he’s had some time to wind down.  They eat dinner, spend some time with the kids, and put them to bed.  They then sit down in front of the TV and start watching a show they both enjoy.  As they are watching the show, Tammy is continuously wondering when Eric will follow through with her request for a massage.  They finish their show and go up to bed, Eric having forgotten completely about the massage.  When they get into the bedroom, Eric starts giving Tammy his usual signals that he wants to make love.  Tammy has the thought that she should make love to him.  She rejected his past couple of attempts, and knew he would be hurt if she did so again.  But, upset that she didn’t get her massage, she pushes him away and says she’s too tired.  Both of them go to sleep feeling unloved, hurt, and rejected. 

In addition to feeling hurt and unloved, there is another issue that Tammy is now faced with.  When Tammy had the thought that she should make love to her husband, despite his forgetting her massage, she was receiving a message from her innate moral sense.  This is a sense that all of us have.  Some people are very good at ignoring this sense, while others are very in tune with it.  It sends us hundreds of messages everyday on anything from whether we should allow someone to merge in front of us in traffic, to whether we really should bomb our boss’s car after receiving a rebuke. 

When Tammy made the choice to go against the message she received, she betrayed her own conscience.  This is an action that does not go without consequence.  We cannot go against our conscience without our actions quickly being followed by feelings of guilt and shame.  If Tammy is like many people, her first response to these feelings is to rationalize and convince herself that the actions were completely justified, in hopes that she can fool her conscience into thinking she is in the right.  In the end, all she truly accomplishes is lying to herself, damaging the relationship,  and lubricating her cycle of selfishness, due to the justifications she has put in place.  There is nothing more damaging or exhausting to an individual than betraying their moral selves.  We may convince ourselves that it is the relationship that is draining us, but in truth, the greatest drain comes from knowing we are not acting according to the goodness we truly have.

In considering this situation, you may be thinking, “But Tammy is completely justified in not having sex with him!  Why would she when he isn’t giving any attention to her needs?”  If this were a question of fairness, you would be absolutely correct.  However, if you are looking to have a successful marriage, you must never ask the question “Is this fair?”  Instead, you must always ask the question “Am I living according to my moral sense?”  Put in simpler terms, “Is this the right thing to do?”  The reason why it is so important to ask this rather than what is fair is that when you are seeking what is “fair,” you are also agreeing to make your behavior contingent on your partners.  We act lovingly only as long as we believe our partner is doing the same.  When we do this, we have also given our partner the power to decide what kind of people we are going to be.  They act selfishly, so we must also be selfish.  The ultimate result is that you and your spouse walk hand in hand toward a horrible marriage and an absence of personal integrity. 

There is another thought that may have gone through your head as you have read this post.  It may have looked something like this, “But if she just went along and had sex with Eric, then she would be letting him completely take advantage of her!”  This type of thinking dominates our view of relationships today, which may also be a good explanation for the current divorce rate.  In addressing this, I have one important question: at what point did we convince ourselves that it is a greater wrong to be taken advantage of than it is to act without love?  Think about that question very carefully…  When did our pride become a greater priority than a successful marriage?

So, what is it that I’m trying to say in all of this?  There is only one way to cure the neurotic investor syndrome.  That way is to do what is right… period.  To act lovingly… period.  To honor your moral sense… period.  No contingencies, justifications, or rationalizations.  Just do it.  You will be amazed by what can happen in a relationship when love is no longer contingent, but unconditional.  It enlivens, excites, and motivates the couple to seek for even more ways that they can please each other, and both have their needs met in ways that were never before possible when they were neurotic investors.  Does it take time and enormous patience to reach this point?  Absolutely.  But so what.  Isn’t it worth it?  As the saying goes, anything worth having is worth working for.  I can’t think of anything more worth having than a wonderful marriage.

 

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Published in: on March 12, 2009 at 2:26 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You are quite the professor! Nice article. I loved the fairness part! Very nice! I will share the site with my couples! Keep it coming!

    • Thanks Kelly! It’s good to hear from you. We should talk sometime. I want to hear about what you think of all the happenings around the office!

      Matt

  2. You are right that if you go against your sense of fairness you are hurting yourself. And you should do the right thing for your spouse and marriage because you feel it is right and not because you expect anything in return.

    But I have to tell you, I was in a really lousy bad horrible awful marriage and I ALWAYS had sex with my husband because I thought it was the “right” thing to do. And you know what, it was WRONG. Because I never not once ever enjoyed it. Sex is something more. Something bigger. An indication of the overall health of the marriage. If someone isn’t in the mood, there are other issues that should be addressed and resolved first.

    If you aren’t feeling love toward your spouse and desire toward them, it isn’t honest to have sex with them. It isn’t fair to either of you. And if the man isn’t a clueless moron he will realize that the woman isn’t really into it and he won’t then be in the mood either. (Who wants to have sex with a partner who isn’t enjoying themselves?)

    • There is no way that I can possibly address the struggles you have had with the limited information I know about your situation. Undoubtedly, this is an issue that caused you a great deal of pain, and one that you are still feeling the effects from. It is so easy to be hurt very deeply by issues related to sex because of the highly intimate nature of the act. The higher the level of intimacy, the higher the level of vulnerability. When we are vulnerable to this level, even minor wounds can feel like mortal injuries. It is very easy for individuals, particularly women, to feel used and objectified by their husbands’ sexual advances.

      There are a few very important points you brought up that I would like to clarify. The first is that no one is obligated to say “yes” all the time. There is nothing wrong with saying “no” from time to time, as long as it does not turn into an ongoing pattern of rejection. Having the option to say “not tonight” keeps things in balance, and also helps to keep sex from becoming another task on the to do list.

      The second point I want to clarify is that, where it is absolutely true that sex is a strong indicator of the quality of your relationship for most women, this is not necessarily true for men. This is because men and women operate backward from each other in the area of sex. Women have sex WHEN they feel close, where men have sex TO feel close. Therefore, as a general rule, sex should not be set aside while working on other relationship issues. This would be like saying, “We should stop communicating while we work on our sexual problems.” Current research shows that it is just as important to work on your physical relationship as it is your emotional relationship. Your physical and emotional relationships work hand in hand.
      It sounds like you were in a relationship where you felt like the focus was very unbalanced- where most of the focus was on the physical relationship, with very little attention given to the emotional relationship. This can be extremely draining. Please understand that there are certainly times when the principles I discussed may not apply. I will simply say that, in the vast majority of situations, the principles discussed in The Solution are sound.


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