In the spirit of bashing and shaming men and keeping women as victims, I thought it necessary to address this topic, which I did some time ago in another blog entitled Victimized Women and Shamed Men.
For most of the women who read this blog, I warn you in advance that this blog is going to create cognitive dissonance for most who read it. Many will shut down and not be able to comprehend this blog, so I encourage you to read the cognitive dissonance blogs [Part I and Part II] in order for this blog to make sense. After reading those, you may have a far better chance of digesting this information.
Today, we need to look at not only when you marry a boy don’t expect a man, but we also need to consider women who marry as prostitutes and expect fidelity from their male spouse. You may be wondering what I mean by that or thinking that sounds harsh. Perhaps it is, but there are two sides to every story.
I’m going to push back against the double standard I see in recovery and many recovery programs when it comes to infidelity. This is not just because I am a man. I have had conversations with numerous female colleagues who agree with me and have tried to help bring balance to this issue.
For many years in my counseling practice, I could not figure out the theme of conflict between couples over sex and money. To be more specific and in many cases, the lack of sex and the overspending of money. That is until I was given a copy of Restoring Sexually by Kathleen Steele Tolleson. In a small book, Kathleen does an amazing job talking about this very topic and others unlike I had ever read before. She takes an honest look and does not hold back punches.
Kathleen Steele Tolleson writes,
“Now, let’s discuss prostitution. Prostitution is the selling of yourself sexually to another person. I want to take a moment here and digress. I have found that the spirit of harlotry is actually at the root of many marriages. I have often said that there are more married prostitutes than those walking the streets. These are the women who have sold themselves in to a marriage for what they could get out of it. Maybe it was security, money, position or possessions. Whatever it was, they sold themselves sexually for it. They just tried to legitimize it through marriage.
Here are some issues you find when harlotry is at the foundation of marriage. First of all, the wife is never satisfied. No matter how much money, how much security, how many clothes, jewelry, it is never enough…The man will always feel used and unappreciated. He will tend to keep giving to hold the marriage together but become more and more resentful. Sometimes, he will end up having an affair with someone he feels just loves him for himself, and not what he can give them…
The woman must become honest with herself, her husband…and repent of selling herself or trading herself in the marriage. The man must repent for agreeing to the terms. Usually deep down inside, he already knows he bought her. Now he must admit to himself and to her…
Areas of imprinting that can take place which would lead to normal prostitution can occur when a child or young adult discovers that she can get gifts, money or special treatment because of allowing sexual behavior. This may come from older adults or even from people she may date. “I can get my boyfriend to spend money on me if I allow him to touch me in certain places.” …As they grow up, under the right circumstances, these areas of sexual imprinting can blossom into full blown prostitution…” (Restoring Sexuality, p. 56-57)
Wow, powerful stuff. Now, I remind you that these are the words of a woman in the field of restoring sexuality for men and women. These are not the words of a man. In the majority of couples I work with, I have seen this over and over.
This revelation was a breakthrough in helping me better understand and better help others. This is why I am sharing this information with you. This is not about taking sides or getting into right or wrong or about ego but more about seeking understanding in the brokenness of both.
So how does this play out in a relationship after a decade or two? As Tolleson states, the wife is never satisfied no matter how much money, security, clothing, or jewelry. It is never enough. The man will feel used and unappreciated. He will work harder and longer hours to keep up with the demands of her spending. Regardless of a budget, she will spend her income and his, so he becomes more resentful and bitter. She will give or withhold sex as she sees fit to pacify the tension between the two of them. He is temporarily satisfied until the overspending returns.
Both are in great conflict. Both most likely have traumas that need to be addressed and healed. Most women need emotional connection to have sex. However, since she has been imprinted that sex gets her things or that sex equals love or security, she uses it. Most men need sex to connect emotionally with the partner. He too has been imprinted (mostly likely with pornography) to believe that sex equals love, and buying her things gets him sex.
Generally, what happens for both individuals is that the price to get what each wants becomes far too great and heavy. The sex is no longer worth the price he must pay. The security, the money and the purchased items temporarily given to her is not worth the price she must pay in giving him sex. Both feel empty, unloved, rejected and betrayed.
Intimacy anorexia or the withholding of love from both will take over. Life stressors of raising children, work, bills, and in-laws will also take over. Both believe the marriage is no longer fair. Accusation, blame and criticism ensues. Both want the other to change, yet neither are willing to change themselves. Alcohol and drugs most often begin to be used to help themselves cope if they have not already been part of the system since the beginning. He or she may also step outside of the marriage with a physical or emotional affair. Both are hurt and in a sick and broken system where both lose, and the sick system of SEX, LOVE, and MONEY with manipulation and exploitation wins. What once made them feel powerful is only powerless.
It is the emotional/sexual unfaithfulness or the drinking that gets blamed most often with many programs and resources all around you. However, the lesser known and overlooked issue is the spending addiction that needs to be addressed with programs like www.debtorsanonymous.org.
There is help. There is hope. You are not alone. You are worth it. Just ask.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.