This is my first blogpost for 2015. But given what I am about to discuss here, we could easily be talking about 1815.
It’s a topic racking up millions of views and shares on social media. Seven point five million to be exact, at the time of writing. You guessed right, Sex and Marriage.
At the centre of this firestorm is an article published on a website called FamilyShare.com and written by a woman called Katelyn Carmen. Now I can’t tell you much about Katelyn Carmen. She is a graduate from the University of Utah and a Mormon, which might explain some of her antiquated views on sex, relationships, and a woman’s ‘duties’ as a wife. By now you might be getting a bit of an idea on where this is going.
Katelyn called her piece, 5 Ways You Are Unknowlingly Destroying Your Husband and Killing Your Marriage. Clearly, it is directed at women, who she thinks should know better but they don’t. Now, personally I think the safest thing for me to do is to include this disclaimer.
- I offer all of this without prejudice.
- I don’t endorse any of the ideas suggested
- I deny any responsibility for the moral outrage it might engender.
Ok. So now we’ve got that out of the way, lets deal with the nitty-gritty. Katelyn writes: “When I got married, I was amazed at the instant, overwhelming sense of responsibility I felt to love and care for my husband. Suddenly, a huge part of someone else’s wellbeing and happiness was largely affected by my choices and actions. Women, we need to be careful about how we are caring for our husbands and marriages. Don’t let the small stuff ruin the things that will bring you the greatest happiness in life.”
Now at this point you might be already saying surely this applies equally to husbands and how they should treat their wives. And to be fair to Katelyn, she does point that out but the problem she has, as I see it, no one believes her when she says it applies to men. On the issue of living within your means, Katelyn writes: “A wise old woman from my church congregation once advised: “The best thing you can do as a wife is to live within your husband’s means.” Constantly complaining about not having enough to fulfill your lavish desires or racking up astronomical amounts of debt on your credit card is a poor way of saying “thank you” to a faithful spouse who works hard every day to provide for the family. Yes, you may not have enough to buy that Kate Spade bag you’ve had your eyes on for months, but your husband will love and appreciate the fact that you honor him and are grateful for what he provides.”
Yes. She is being serious. Wait. There’s more.
Wives are apparently too negative. Katelyn writes: “Negativity is draining. Men like to fix things, and constantly being hounded with complaints makes it difficult for him to help solve your pains. If there is one thing I’ve learned from marriage is that a good man wants you to be happy, and if he can’t help you do that, it makes him unhappy. It’s okay to have a bad day once in a while, that’s totally understandable, but don’t make it a way of life.” (Wives might want to start drinking wine early in the afternoon if they want to accomplish this: my advice)
But Katelyn saves the very best until last: “Men crave and need physical affection with their wives. When you constantly decline intimacy, it wears on them. Sex should not be used as a tool to control your spouse; it should be viewed as a sacred tool to draw you closer to one another and to God. It is a great blessing to be wanted and needed by a loving, romantic husband who wants to share something so beautiful and important with you — and you only. Even though you might not always be in the mood, it’s worth it to give in (when you can) and spend that time bonding.”
Hang on Katelyn I need to pick you up on the “you only” reference. Doesn’t your religion actively promote men having more than one wife? So strictly speaking it’s going to be ok if he’s shagging more than just you according to the Mormon religion.
Anyway, I’ve digressed when I shouldn’t.
Now, as you might expect, not everyone was thrilled with what Katelyn had to say. For example one blogger said: “It turns out that while I’ve spent all these years trying to make us happy, I should have been worried about making him happy. Why? I don’t know. Because (of his) penis, I guess.”
Another blogger mockingly rephrased Katelyn’s words: “Men, susceptible creatures that they are, need lots and lots of physical affection. They cannot live without it and if you neglect your wifely duties, then he’s just going to go elsewhere, and you’ll be a bad, bad wife. Seriously, they’ll give you a trophy. Never mind if you don’t feel well, or you’re tired, or just not in the mood, your husband’s needs surmount yours and it is your duty to give him all the pleasure he wants and needs.”
According to Katelyn, one of the main relationship problems is that husbands and wives don’t speak the same language. Or should I say, wives don’t understand their husbands, and it’s all their fault. She writes: “Don’t waste your time giving subtle hints that he won’t understand: Speak plainly to him. Be honest about your feelings, and don’t bottle things up until you burst. If he asks you what’s wrong, don’t respond with “nothing” and then expect him to read your mind and emotions.”
But can you imagine my surprise, not to mention my amusement, when I came across another study which suggests the way to really improve a marriage is for a husband to spend more time at work and less time with his wife. The more overtime he does, the healthier his wife will become because the extra income means they can afford cleaners and the wife can spend more time on herself pursuing such things as vigorous exercise or playing sport.
Getting back to Katelyn, she says she is genuinely mystified by the strong reaction her article has caused. “The advice I gave in this article was influenced by a variety of sources, including my college studies and research — I minored in marriage and family studies — family therapists who contribute content to the site, my own marriage and advice from couples I know who’ve have had long, successful marriages.
“Marriage is a partnership. My advice is just as important and relevant to men –- and we publish advice for both men and women on the site,” she said. “As spouses, we should be willing to help one another as equal partners as we honor and serve one another. That, in turn, will bring the greatest likelihood of a successful marriage.”
I know I should be gracious, and acknowledge that Katelyn is talking about both sides in the relationship. And most people would agree with her on that point but call me cynical, I just don’t believe she really means it.