Question:

A woman has come to my wife asking if certain aspects of her marriage are normal. She was born and raised in the church. Her husband joined about five years ago. He has been using I Corinthians 7:3-5 to force her to have sex every night, regardless of how she feels. She has no say in the matter. If she says “no,” he tells her “this is why husbands cheat” and then he will ignore her for a few days.

He takes being the head of the household to an extreme and doesn’t consider his wife’s thoughts or feelings in any way.

I hope that you can guide me with some Scriptures to give to my wife to help this woman stand up to her dictator of a husband.

Answer:

There are multiple viewpoints to any story. You have one, but I wonder about the other. "The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him" (Proverbs 18:17). I'm not saying that she is wrong but that there is likely more going on than is being presented.

"But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does" (I Corinthians 7:3-5).

Sex in a marriage is supposed to be a gift from one spouse to the other, but in this marriage, it has become a weapon -- both in its use and in its withholding. The woman is seeing her husband as "the enemy." She has grudges against him regarding his decisions and her apparent lack of input. As a result, she doesn't respect him and she doesn't want to be intimate with him. In other words, this tug-of-war over sex isn't about sex, it is the result of a lack of love in the relationship.

If it is like most disputes, both sides are contributing to the problems in different ways. Unfortunately, there is too little for me to guess about the causes of the problems. The solution is to find someone they both respect who can help them sort through the issues in their marriage. Marriages work because both the husband and wife work on the issues that arise. This takes effort and it can be emotionally draining.

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