Sometimes in marriage, you have a disagreement. And sometimes in marriage, your spouse hacks you off so much, you imagine ripping his head off and throwing it in his face. (Yes, that is logistically impossible, but we’re talking feelings here!) How dare he! What was he thinking? Does he care about me? (Or substitute “she” for “he” if needed.) For most of us, there is no one we feel closer to and no one who can send us from calm to unhinged in seconds like our spouse.
As you lie in bed late at night seething and sizzling with anger and hurt, your beloved scoots over and…apologizes? Admits he was completely wrong and you were completely right? Begs for forgiveness and thanks you repeatedly for being the brilliant and sexy wife that you are? Oh, how we wish!
Noooo, he strokes your body and suggests a sexual encounter. What??!! You’ve got to be kidding!
At that point, you’re thinking, “The last thing I want to do with you right now is have sex!” You’re not even sure you want to share the same house at this moment, much less entangle your bodies on the same bed! Huff, puff, roll eyes, turn over, groan, push hands away. “Don’t touch me, I’m angry!”
If this has never happened to you, thank heaven. You may wish to go read a different blog post about cute puppies or the newest fashion trends. I truly am thrilled that you’ve got this one worked out, but the other 98.3% of us need to consider this very real problem.
If, as many suggest, we are supposed to be open to the idea of physical intimacy whenever desired by our spouse, what do you do when you can’t even stand the sight of his face, much less his other body parts? Do you pray for a better attitude? Sigh and think to yourself, Let’s just get this over with? Pop up out of bed and demand that you converse for two hours to work out your issues before he can touch one precious inch of your fabulous body?
Ephesians 4:26 says, “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Easier said than done, right? Not all marital disagreements can be resolved in five minutes. At times, in fact, you have every reason to seethe and no desire to make up.
Let me first say that I have not mastered this one. I’m working on it.
However, I don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all answer. Your approach probably depends on several things. For instance, if it was a one-time faux pas on his part, you should probably breathe deep, pray for calm, and let it go. After a few minutes of sexual arousal, perhaps you won’t even remember that moment when he suggested you take cooking lessons from his mother. (And he will no longer care that you can’t cook.)
If the issue is a huge problem or an ongoing pattern, you may need to converse before engaging in sex. Explain (calmly) that you are very hurt by the argument and want to reconnect emotionally before reconnecting physically. But unless it causes your skin to actually burn, try holding hands or cuddle as you talk; touching your spouse can diffuse the anger, make you more willing to hear one another out, and remind you of your affection for one another.
If your anger is based on an issue that isn’t likely to be resolved tonight or ever, or if it’s based as much on the bad day you had or a lack of sleep (see Don’t Touch Me: I’m Exhausted), then you may merely need time to cool down. Figure out what will ease your tension. For me, it’s often a bath. Give me 10 minutes in a hot bubble bath with a good book and a glass of wine, and my stress level decreases substantially. Then I can accept the fact that he will never put all of his shoes in the closet and I simply need to step around the mine field of footwear in my bedroom. Or overlook the abandonment I felt when he retreated to the bedroom while kids were screaming because what really bothered me was the stressful day I had. (I would have escaped too, if I had seen the opening first!)
But I agree with Ephesians. If you often go to bed angry, if you take your anger out on your sex life, if your spouse encounters wrath like Khan when he brushes up against you after an argument, you need to reread 1 Corinthians 13. In verse 5, it says that love is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs.
If not for forgiveness, reconciliation, and hello, make-up sex, how many of us would even have a marriage after a few years? Deal with anger when it roars its ugly head. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt and work it out. Remember that this person vowed to love you for a lifetime. And that lifetime includes tonight . . . in your bedroom.