Meeting the Needs of Your Mate
Imagine your child is at home. In the home, the child has all the food they could possibly need. The pantry is stocked, freezers are loaded, and dinner is slowly simmering on the stove. There should be no need for your child to be hungry. There should be no need for your child to have to starve. There should be no need for your child to feel they have to sneak out of the house to steal food. When we see stories like this on the news we feel anger, rage, the urge to take action. Why would a person who has been entrusted to provide for the needs of the child treat them this way? Why not feed the hungry child? It is their responsibility to ensure the child's basic needs are met.
Now let us look at our relationships. In our relationships we undertake the responsibility of meeting the needs of our mates. Why then are so many people unfulfilled in their relationships?
One of the reasons is that we fail to see the needs of others from their eyes. If we have just eaten, it may never occur to us that our partner is starving. If we are content with going out to dinner once a month, we do not think that they may want to dine out more often. The easiest practical demonstration of this fact is sex. PUT DOWN YOUR BIBLES AND ANOINTED OILS!!! We are allowed to talk about sex, it was given to us by God, and ordained for our enjoyment. Don't believe me? Pick up the Bible you were about to throw at the screen and turn to Song of Solomon (Song of Songs or Canticles). Make sure your kids aren't looking over your shoulder. Read a few chapters. I'll wait.
Seen enough? Put a bookmark there, you'll be back. As I was, saying, sex is one of the gifts God gave us. As such, it should be treasured, revered, and enjoyed. Too many relationships have suffered because of a lack of this understanding and unwillingness to communicate about it.
What's that got to do with a hungry child? Well, too often one of the spouses is like that child. They can see their mate, and desire their mate, but not be able to enjoy their mate. In a marriage there is very little privacy, you can see everything, and since part of the reason we marry is physical attraction (it is, don't get too holy on me), it is a torture to see your spouse cavorting around and not be able fully partake in their presence. This raises a hunger that is not fed, and puts a pressure on the hungry spouse to maintain their integrity while starving. (I'm intentionally using gender neutral pronouns, because both genders deal with this issue.)
What makes the issue more difficult is the spouse that is not hungry often believes that their mate is either as content as they are or is being unreasonable in their requests. Because it is such a sensitive topic, any conversation initiated to solve the difficulty swiftly deteriorates into a defensive standoff. We are not taught how to effectively communicate about sex, and even the topic of sex is viewed as somehow unholy. Therefore conversation never happens and the hunger builds, leading to bitterness, resentment, loathing, and eventually action.
I see you over there. "But Fish, we should each be responsible for our actions." True. And if the hungry spouse choses to eat at another house (yes, I'm keeping this metaphor going, it’s the cleanest way I can do this), that spouse should and will face the consequences. But what about the spouse that is refusing to feed their mate? Shouldn't there be consequences for them? They are also going against the Word of God. Don't believe me? Turn in your Bible, no not to the Song of Solomon, but to 1 Corinthians 7:4 "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." Again, the direction is for both genders to feed each other, so if one spouse is not serving good food (GOOD FOOD), then they are not in order.
"But Fish, what if there are issues in the past that prevent me from feeding my spouse?" Good question. Because our unions are forged in honesty, we should explain this to our spouse before we enter into holy matrimony. Too late? Never! I can tell you from personal experience that you can still explain to your spouse why they’re not being fed the way they like. In most cases the explanation, coupled with the desire to resolve the problem, makes the hunger diminish at least until the problem can be resolved. And I know that this is not just a one day, week, or month solution. However, if we start somewhere and work diligently, we can get to a conclusion. And at that point both parties can truly begin to enjoy the food in their kitchen.
So, I'm Fish, the male half of this equation. The piece you have read above is pretty much my viewpoint and approach. In coming editions you will see more from me, Bird, and actual pieces that we will collaborate on. I welcome your opinions, but not your condemnations, your questions, but not your interrogations, your comments, but not your sermons, and your feedback, but not your insults. I hope that we can embark on a journey of learning and growth as our Lord directs us.