Husband on Wife-Imposed Rice Diet

What do you think about this man's situation? And what would you say to his new wife?
I love to eat.

What can I say? I'm a meat and potatoes, average kind of guy. It doesn't take much to please me. I
don't need a ten-course gourmet meal, and I'm not one to complain about a decent meal. My wife and I have been married for nearly eighteen months, and when we dated, she never said anything about not liking meat. But ever since we got married, all she wants to eat is rice. Sometimes she'll throw in some vegetables... but we never eat meat; she won't buy it!
When I asked about it, she said that she doesn't think we need it, it's unhealthy, gross to think about, and has made it clear that she thinks we're on this rice diet together. Forever. I work at a store in the mall, and we usually pack up leftovers for lunch (rice with an occasional side veggie). I've been so tempted to chunk it lately and go to the food court, but we promised each other that we'd not eat out. I mean, rice is good. But a little variety would go a LONG way.

Not to mention that I work right next to a Cinnabon shop and those SMELLS are driving me crazy. And then I drive past "Restaurant Row" on my way home from work. I don't want to hurt her, but this is ridiculous. It's not what I signed up for... I
thought we'd be eating good at home, maybe not super amazing meals every day, but at least some tasty stuff occasionally. That's one reason I made that whole "let's not eat out" promise.

I'm sick of plain old rice. I don't have to have steak and dessert every single day, but goodness... rice and veggies is getting old FAST.
How can this be fixed? Whenever I've tried to say something, she takes it as a complaint about her cooking and gets emotional and then things become even more tense and rigid. HELP!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As you're formulating your thoughts about his question, imagine if this had gone on for 10, 20 years. What kind of man would be able to deal with that?


Now, indulge me... go back and read the whole letter in light of marital intimacy. But make the length of time eighteen YEARS instead of eighteen months. It's OK, I'll wait for you. Seriously, go back and read it with marital intimacy/desire (instead of food/appetite) in mind.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Did you read it? Are you with me? Here's the point:

THE LURE OF THE CINNABON STAND
Christian men (particularly in an increasingly sexualized world that co-exists with what is often a "sex-is-worldly" mentality in the church) are like hungry men walking past Cinnabon stands and driving past "Restaurant Row" 24/7. If they come home to a warmed-over bowl of rice, they still *need* to exercise self-control, yes-- but they're much more likely to be drawn in by the sights and smells of the Cinnabon stand. And probably find themselves daydreaming about it in their weaker moments, even if they're never lured to go in and actually take a bite.

But if they're getting delicious, mouth-watering "food" at home, regularly, then, yeah, they still have to exercise self-control (I mean, lets face it, those Cinnabons do smell INCREDIBLE)... but they're more likely to be able to do so
, because they're well-fed and happy with what they're getting at home.

WHAT'S ON YOUR "MENU"?
If I'm serving up rice every day (or once a week or once a month or worse), I need to understand that there are Cinnabon stands out there, and I need to KNOW how hard it is for my husband to walk past them without buying one. Cause whether we like it or not, he's having to deal with it. So, maybe I need to learn how to make rice with a little more spice or sauce in the mix, or maybe I need to learn how to make stuff other than rice... to vary my "menu options". Maybe I'll even make him some to-die-for-delicious cinnamon rolls of my own. But whatever the case, understanding the lure of the Cinnabon stand, and how tiresome it would be to eat rice once a week every week for years on end, helps me as a wife to love my husband more, and to meet not only his needs, but his desires too.

I say all this to say to you married women out there: consider what's on your "menu". Are you unnecessarily limiting your husband's "diet" because of your own hang-ups? Is he on a starvation diet? Is he getting warmed-over rice in a crusty bowl again and again and again and again and again...?

Sometimes there are legitimate things (like abuse, addictions, and other similar marital issues) that limit our "menu options" for us. And sometimes it's the men who are serving up warmed over rice to their hungry wives. But I'm not talking to those people right now.

Statistics and experience in hearing from and talking to these women over and over again tell me that the all too common experience in many Christian marriages is similar to the rice example I've given above.

And all I'm saying is, it just shouldn't be that way.


[I should note that this idea is a piggy-backed idea off of something a friend of mine wrote when we were discussing marital intimacy.]

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

So if my husband fails while on a business trip and looks at porn on the internet, it's basically my fault?

-LB

Jess said...

LB,
I'm not aiming to play the blame game here. The point is not "if he does x, then it's because I didn't ____". The point is that we should see our husbands through realistic eyes of compassion and serve and love them as we can.

If you're doing all you can, and he's sinning, well, then that's between him and God. And frankly, a blogging man (or better yet, a fellow Christian in his life) can speak to his heart much better than I can.

But my angle is to look at what we as Christian wives can do to love and serve our husbands in this porn-drenched, difficult-enough world that they live in. How can we delight more in our husbands and serve up some good home-cooking? That's my point... I would never seek to induce guilt or shame.

Jess

Brenda said...

This is one of the best analogies I've ever heard! I was really feeling sorry for the rice-eating husband! Ouch!

I love that you encourage us in this area. Great post!

Polly said...

Good post! Interesting analogy, and I agree. Whether it is the man or the woman serving up the plain rice, unless both partners enjoy plain rice all. the. time....spice is nicer!

CG, E3 & Sons said...

What a great analogy! It made me smile, and helped me to think about this.

- CG

Adrienne said...

Thanks for the encouragement to bless our husbands with "steak":). We Christian wives need this reminder. Thank You!
Even though it takes more effort to make it, it's always makes for a good meal and is worth it!

kmom3 said...

Hi!
This is my first time by here, and I just have to smile. What a great first post for me to read. :) Really now...if my marriage is truly important to me, then what I am...um...putting on the menu for my husband needs to be important to me! :) What a great way to put this...and a great reminder that Cinnabon is out there. I can't pretend it isn't!
Thanks for this great post!

Simple Family Supper lady said...

GREAT post!!!!!! I LOVE cooking. I enjoy providing a variety of great food for our suppers. I have never thought about it in light of our intimacy... puts things in a whole new perspective! Planning menus for Simple Family Supper will NEVER be the same again.... My mind will wander!!!
Have a great day,
Heather

Anonymous said...

It can be difficult to serve a cinnabon to your husband after watching clean his toenails with a hanger.

I'm thinking that it is equally the husband's responsibility to make it tempting for her to serve a seven course meal.

Is it your belief that men "dine out" because they are starving or because they just prefer Mrs Buttersworth to Aunt Jemimah and are selfish enough to cater to their tastebuds?

Jess said...

Anonymous,
(Please do sign your next comment with a name or initials or something!)

You said:
It can be difficult to serve a cinnabon to your husband after watching clean his toenails with a hanger.

I'm not sure what you're specifically getting at here, but sure, there are things that they can do to make intimacy more appealing. Showering regularly? Making sure he's reasonably well-groomed? Not acting like a goon or an ogre, stuff like that. :)


You said:I'm thinking that it is equally the husband's responsibility to make it tempting for her to serve a seven course meal.

Yeah, but again, I'm not the one to address that. I can talk to women. My readership is almost entirely women (I do get the occasional man reader/commenter, but it's rare)... and so I can talk to women about things that THEY can do. I'm not going to sit around and focus on what OTHER people can do to make MY responsibilities easier for me.

Regardless of how my husband acts, whether he's appealing or ogre-ish, I'm called to love, serve, and respect him. He's also told to love me. But again, if I spend all my time focused on HIM and how "he's not making it easy on me", then what good does that do?!


Finally, you asked:Is it your belief that men "dine out" because they are starving or because they just prefer Mrs Buttersworth to Aunt Jemimah and are selfish enough to cater to their tastebuds?

Both/and. Some (and I would guess this is a large percentage, based on the google searches for "Christian wife denies husband intimacy" or "Christian marriage wife says no to sex" I get that bring people to Making Home) men are tempted to dine out because they aren't getting hardly ANY sustenance at home.

But the truth is that this American magazine-land that we live in, complete with cable, 24/7 live access to porn on the internet and more, makes it that much more of an issue in Christian marriages. Sure, some men prefer to sin.

But some men really DO want to do right and meanwhile their wives are home, nagging, denying sex, or begrudgingly doling it out (as though it's some kind of ill-tasting but necessary cough medicine) to their husbands who TRULY DO want to love and delight themselves in the wife of their youth.

So, I'd say both/and. One kind needs counseling. The other doesn't-- he just needs (or desires) a wife who will enjoy with him the physical pleasures created by God.

~Jess

Andrea said...

Wow, Jess.
You covered that topic here better than a Seinfeld episode! ;)

Seriously, it is great food for thought. (No pun intended...again.)

It is certainly something to continue to improve and work harder at. I thank you for taking the time to address it!

Julie said...

Dear Sir, I can imagine how little you enjoy having rice day after day. Though it gets the job done, it is rather bland... Perhaps you should try leading by example--buy your wife some new spices or a new cookbook. Take her out for a romantic dinner or a moonlight picnic. Or better yet, cook her a fabulous dinner--don't forget to clean the kitchen afterwards! Maybe that will light the gas in her stove. And if she doesn't catch on to your hints, by all means, TALK ABOUT IT. Perhaps she was not taught to cook--or taught that men can survive on rice alone. Man, get into the kitchen with her, turn on some music, and whip up a new recipe together. She'll love your help!

Madam, Your husband has mentioned his growing boredom with rice and his equally growing temptation to partake of fast food. Now we all know how unhealthy fast food is, but, unfortunately, it is everywhere--and cheap. I don't know much about you--perhaps your mother didn't teach you how to cook or only served rice in your household growing up. Don't be afraid to break the mold, honey! Don't hesitate to ask your husband for some meal suggestions--you should definitely work on this TOGETHER. And remember, it can't hurt to at least try a new dish! And don't forget--the Good Lord Himself gave us chocolate, sugar, wine, and strawberries. So don't forget to try dessert. Oh, and talk to your husband about the grocery budget--men often have no idea how expensive food is. Maybe he's not giving you enough grocery money. You gotta talk to him--that's always my best piece of advice. Happy Cooking!

Jess said...

Julie,
WOW. Great response!!! You always did have a way with words. :)

~Jess

madgebaby said...

I remember fairly recently some surveys were done that indicated that evangelical christian married folk report the highest satisfaction with their sexual lives. This study stood out because it differed from the stereotype of "repressed" christians.

That said, this is a cute description of a common problem. Perhaps if he'd take the time to wash out the rice bowl and sharpen the steak knives (and, perhaps, take out the trash and give the kids a bath) dear wife would be more in the mood to grill out ;)

I do not, however, think that adultery is ever the responsibilty of the cheated upon. Being tempted is one thing, acting upon temptation is entirely another.

Shaunta' said...

Jess,
I love this post. This is a constant struggle in my marriage. I serve rice quite often though my husband would like a gourmet meal. I have to seek the Lord's help and when I do, I am able to give more. I know it all boils down to selfishness and desire to control on my part. When you remember, please pray for me. I hope that this analogy coupled with God's grace and meditation on His word will help me to repent and be more like Christ. Thx for this post!

Catherine R. said...

Okay, this could be interpreted in different ways. Does the rice mean boring sex? It's hard to get a clear picture when we can't talk in specifics. Rice may look very different from one woman to the next. Does Cinnebon sex mean acting out what you think a porno movie would be (aside from the multiple partners etc.)?

I know life is not fair but sometimes it seems unfair that we have to worry about being modest and then flip the switch to randy hooker in the bedroom to keep up with all the lust-laden images that blast our husbands in the culture. All that said, I remain eager to correct whatever I'm doing wrong and do the "dirty" work that's necessary.

Jessica said...

Awesome Post!!!!!!

Trish D said...

This is a great post, and definitely hit home for me. Thanks for another honest and thought-provoking post

Karen (Pediascribe) said...

Interesting post and perfect analogy.

I also want to add, that a wife should be sure to get enough sleep, and maybe a little exercise every day so that she isn't too fatigued to cook something other than rice.

If she is falling asleep as soon as she gets into the kitchen, then she needs to get to the kitchen earlier, and more regularly.

And thank you, I'll never be able to eat a Cinnabon again without snickering. ;)

gina said...

I used to feel guilty about this at times because every time this topic was presented it placed all of the responsibilty on my shoulders. All I heard was how important it is to "serve my husband" whether I felt like it or not. That "he needed it". I felt the burden of the responsibility all on me. It took a lot of the joy and desire out of it. God has shown me that intimacy begins way before we are "in the bedroom". I have learned to express to my husband that I will be drawn to him even more as he makes effort to nurture our relationship in ways besides the physical. Reading scripture together daily draws us together. Holding hands when we are together. When he does laundry for me without me asking. There are so many things that draw me to him, and as I have taken time to express that to him, he has worked hard to serve me in those ways. Although my goal isn't to "get him to serve ME"...I do think it is important that we express honestly to our husbands how they can help US as women be drawn to them! It's important that women don't have more burdens heaped on their shoulders by thinking that it is all up to them. So, what if a husband doesn't nurture is wife? Well, of course we are to choose to serve anyway. But it does make it harder on the wife. I knew a young mom once that had just had her third baby. She had two very young children as well. One day I was visiting her and I followed her up to her room so she could nurse her baby. She started to cry and share that her husband didn't help her at all. He would come home from work and play computer games while she made dinner and tried to take care of three children. Then after dinner she would do the dishes, and get the girls ready for bed etc. He didn't help at all. Then she would go to bed exhausted. He would come to bed at about 2:00 am and wake her up because he wanted intimacy. She was exhausted and felt guilty because she felt like it was all up to her. I encouraged her to try and talk with him, and get some counsil as a couple or SOMETHING! I was so upset about this because it was another example of it being all on the woman's shoulders.

I guess I share all this to encourage that man to think about what he can do to help his wife desire to give him more than rice!

Jess said...

Catherine,
You raise a good question.... essentially, "rice" could be anything. Getting into a rut, not doing it very often and denying your husband, always insisting on unnecessary external "rules" in order to have it happen ("OK, but the lights HAVE to stay off!"), etc.

I can't answer that. Each woman who's wondering could ask her husband... "what kind of things could we do to spice up our love life and continue to keep it interesting and wonderful for us both?" That may look different for each couple, based on personalities, likes, dislikes, and of course, all of it being weighed by Scriptural guidelines (not including other people, not doing anything disrespectful of one partner, etc.).

Anyway, all that to say, I think that's precisely WHY it's a good analogy, because "rice" can be so many different things in different marriages. But I just want to encourage wives to discuss this with their husbands and continue learning and growing in love towards their own husbands.

Kristin said...

This is totally off-topic, but I thought you would like to know I have a post linking to your food blog.

http://from-my-life.blogspot.com/2008/05/recipes-from-blogosphere.html

dumbsheep100 said...

What does one do if the wife wants to serve her husband the food he desires and does not refuse for the most part but the husband wants his meal in the day time when the four children are up and about? I give in because he will not let up but I feel sick about it because the children may come in at any time. I want to meet his needs but I dread this!!!

Jess said...

Sheep,
Off the top of my head, I'd say go along with him... not begrudgingly or gritting your teeth, but enjoying it.

Heck, for thousands of years, kids all around the world have slept near enough to their parents to hear and sometimes even SEE what was going on ... so for your kids to know that married men and women totally love each other and still "do it"... well, I kind of think that's really healthy actually.

Of course, I'm assuming that your kids are old enough to fend for themselves for at least 20 minutes while you guys get your groove on. If not, well, then, practical matters may need to take front burner for a while. But if they're old enough, I'd actually probably say something like, "hey guys- mom and dad are going to our room to have some time just the two of us. Don't bother each other and don't bother us." ;-)

But that's me. I think most kids in America today could benefit from seeing that married couples really can live it up and have a blast together... even AFTER children! :)

Blessings,
Jess

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

Jess, I wanted to post that the gina that left a comment was me. I somehow posted it under another account...but I didn't mean to do it anonymously.

Jessica B. said...

OK so after I read the intro I was already forming my comment about how my husband really wanted to switch our menu to whole grains and all natural foods. He got rid of our peanut butter, the margarine, etc. and replaced it with preservative free options. I was going to tell you how I was reluctant at first but then realized I needed to serve him in this way and now I really enjoy all of these foods...
And then I read the rest... haha
So my story from above is NOT an analogy, but I did enjoy yours :)

Kelly said...

Jess,

What an awesome post! I'm glad I visited your blog today. I've been pondering some of these things lately.

I have a few thoughts for Sheep regarding children. My kids are all teens now. It is harder for me to know that my kids KNOW what is going on, but we just lock the door. We have a Do Not Disturb Sign :) When they were little, we would give each of them $1 if they could watch Veggie Tales and not move. We gave them a snack, a movie and $1! And they didn't know what we were doing LOL.

Some other thoughts I've had. Thinking about things to "cook", reading "cookbooks" (I love Sheet Music and christiannympho.blogspot.com blog), reminisencing about past meals, looking forward to future meals, all of that helps the wife be ready to cook, at least in my experience.

Thanks for tackeling these topics Jess.

deb said...

As I was reading your analogy-which is very good by the way- I found myself wondering why the man didn't simply tell his wife what he wanted.

I am often surprised by how many of my friends do not talk to their husbands about their frustrations until they are angry. Then they explode!

Mom said...

Jessica,

That was an excellent analogy!

Kim & Dave said...

Very thought provoking, Jess!

Thank-you!

dumbsheep100 said...

Jess,
What a riot! I read your comment to my husband and he was very amused by your advice. I think he rather enjoyed me being given advice totally against what I thought I would hear. I for one will try to relax about my concerns about this thanks to your words of wisdom. We have been married going on seventeen years. I guess I should be thankful he still delights in the wife of his youth! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You are totally making it sound like it's the woman's responsiblilty or the woman's fault... I didn't think that was a good example. When I read the first part I kept thinking... it's not her responsibility to cook for him 24/7 - and if he's unhappy he can cook some himself - research some new veg food ideas... work together....

Then you turned it into a intimacy thing... and made it sound like it was her fault... it totally goes both ways... I think this was a ridiculous post

Kathryn

Jess said...

Well at least you're brave enough to sign your name, Kathryn, LOL. I respect that, even if we disagree about this issue.

Look, if I said the opposite-- "he should take what he wants, he should make it happen.", then I'd be jumped on for encouraging abuse or marital rape or some such thing.

Sure, he has his part to do. But I DON'T WRITE TO MEN. I DON'T GET MALE READERS VERY OFTEN. I speak to women... and if you're doing great, then good for you. Many, many Christian women have been taught all sorts of hideous things about sex being dirty, that good Christian women "don't", that oral sex and other things are evil, etc. Many, many Christian women get caught in a cycle of withholding sex from their husbands.

IF that's not you, great.

I'm not going to write about what men need to do. That's not my place. That's the job for another blogger, pastor, counselor, or friend. But in striving to fulfill whatever role I have in the Titus 2 chain of women, I try to pass on some things that have helped me love my husband better. Thinking about my responsibilities in our love life in this sort of way has helped me. So I'm passing it along. If you disagree, or it doesn't help you, that's OK.

Jess

Jess said...

Kathryn,
I wanted to come back and add that you are right to point out the weakness in the analogy-- it DOES assume that the husband must only eat whatever he does with the approval and involvement of his wife.

Biblically speaking, a Christian man is limited to whatever his wife says is on the menu. If he chooses to go outside of that, he is sinning against God and against his wife.

So, yes, the analogy does fail in that a Christian man CAN stop by Chick-Fil-A on his lunchbreak and not dishonor his wife. But he is NOT free to stop by a strip club and get a tasty "snack" since his wife won't let him see her undressed.

Point being, our husbands ARE limited to whatever we're serving up. If we unnecessarily put a bunch of things off limits and force him to abide by a bunch of extra-biblical rules, we're forcing him to become a rice-only guy. Sure, he could "cook"-- but unless his wife is willing to respond to the changes he suggests, he's stuck.

Jess

Here we go... said...

I have been reading your blog recently and just want to say thank you. I connect in so many ways with your posts and have shared them with friends, as well. This story is a tool I will use often...

Jess said...

Just for you inquiring minds out there who may wonder why two comments disappeared, there was a critical comment left by a commenter, and I responded to her comment, and then I got a note from her asking me to delete her comment, so I did. And I deleted my response as well since it no longer made sense.

Holly said...

I think it is a good analogy too.

Just a few simple caveats.

1) I don't think eating *rice* once a week is bad. It's real life...rice meets the nourishment need some of the times. Maybe rice a few times a week and steak on the weekend. That's not a bad arrangement, either. We don't ALWAYS need the full-meal deal, every day of the week.

2) We also go through stages of life. A woman who has born her husband's children needs his love and consideration too. If she is pregnant, or post-partum, he can love her through her "weakness" on behalf of their child/ren and submit his desires for a time and eat a little boring rice. If he does this, serving her and loving her sacrificially, he can generally be sure that he will soon be experiencing more variety and meatier meals. :) (And I say this from the vantage point of the wife of a man who eats well the majority of the time. I'm all for eating healthily! Hope you all can read MY analogies here. I'm not talking food, not really.)

3. As many of your readers have already said...talking about it really would help!

Jess said...

Brenda,
I'm kind of glad I at least fooled someone with my initial part-- I kept questioning whether anyone would actually make it to the end without "getting" my analogy on their own. Glad it wasn't so transparent! ;-)


Kmom3,
Glad you came around, hope you'll be back!


Heather,
Your response is exactly how I felt as I began thinking about this idea... that it really helps you to think through the planning, focus, and time we need to put into that time with our husbands.


Madge,
You're right, that married evangelicals DO enjoy greater satisfaction, security, and pleasure in their sexual lives than other groups. I'm so glad for that. At the same time, this is an area where Satan attacks Christians again and again. I return to the topic fairly frequently, because I feel so strongly about speaking up for strong marriages, and this is one primary area where women tend to drop the ball... not usually because we intend to, but often because we just get busy, get sidetracked, forget, are so tired, etc. Anyway, that's why I keep on returning to this topic-- it's a common burden on my heart, and I get a lot of people coming from google searches about it... so it seems like there is a strong need for someone to speak up about it! :)


Shaunta'-- you can do it! Literally! :) The amazing thing is, when we ask God to help us delight in this area, He is so willing to give us that desire and a heart for loving our husbands like we should.


Catherine,
You cracked me up: "it seems unfair that we have to worry about being modest and then flip the switch to randy hooker in the bedroom" ...

Yeah I hear you. At the same time, it helps to understand that it's the hookers and porn girls that are imitating US. What I mean by that is that it's not tawdry or bad to really have a wild time in the bedroom. It's not about acting out what a porno movie should be. Yikes. In fact, we need to get that trash out of our systems and just feel freedom within the marriage relationship.

You may not struggle with this, so then it wouldn't be addressed to you-- but a LOT of Christian women are saddled with all kinds of guilt and shame associated with sex. Because of being raped/abused, because of the way they were/weren't taught about sex, because of the things a parent or friend said about sex that still resound in their minds.

One friend recently shared that she's struggled with opening up to her husband because her mother's voice was constantly ringing in her head with all of her "judgments" about what was and wasn't acceptable in the bedroom. We've gotta pitch that stuff out the window. The ONLY thing that places any external limits on our love life is the Word of God. And of course, each partner may have his/her own personal things that aren't as desirable. But when external things/people/ideas start prescribing or dictating rules in our bedrooms, something's out of whack. And for a significant number of married Christian women, things are out of whack.


Karen,
I'm jealous. I wish I could snicker while eating a Cinnabon. We can't even GET them here! :)


Jessica B,
That's funny that you were thinking about healthy organic foods and I totally ruined your comment. Sorry about that. :)


Deb,
Sometimes it seems that simple to me too, like "why wouldn't they just talk about these things?" But hearing from a lot of these women has led me to believe a few things:

(1) Some couples just don't talk about it much. Maybe because of hangups. Maybe because they don't know how. Maybe because they're avoiding pain associated with the whole sexual realm. Maybe for some other reason.

(2) Some wives don't want to open up to their husbands. They're in a way almost afraid to really lose control and relax in their intimate times with their husbands... and that makes me so sad. It just shouldn't be that way. That should be the one place where we CAN relax.

And then,
(3) Some husbands and wives have reasons for #1 and #2-- maybe they've tried to talk, or the wife has tried to open up, and it's gone poorly. Once that happens a few times, you learn to shut up, or learn to not lose control anymore.

But you're right-- so much of it just boils down to honest communication.


Sheep,
:)



~Jess

yoshi3329 said...

so wait, is the letter a fake? I hope so, if not that poor man. If so I see where you're going with this.

http://adlynmorrison.blogspot.com/

m. said...

I love this post! I was thinking, oh that poor man, rice all the time... how boring! It really made me think a lot how I may not even realize I'm offering rice when I could almost as easily offer up something more interesting. Sadly, I think my hubby would agree with this much more than I'd like him to but putting it in this context really made it click in my mind. I think this was a great analogy and I really appreciate it!

- m.

Anonymous said...

Jess, I get your point, but one thing you consistently fail to acknowledge is that many men stray from their wives, even though their wives are not denying them sexual intimacy in any way.

Whenever you put up a post like this, I always feel sorry for the wives in those situations who are blaming themselves, even though they did everything they could to satisfy their husbands' desires.

Laurie B

Jess said...

Ya know, Laurie, if I catered and tailored every article I write to the "exceptions", I'd never write an article.

Nearly every marriage article I write, I get someone who says, "yeah but.... " about singleness, about divorced couples, about cheaters, etc.

Nearly every sex article I write, I get someone who says, "yeah but....." about porn, affairs, abuse, etc.

Nearly every hospitality article I write, I get someone who says, "yeah but....." about their house being small, or a husband who doesn't help, or that their house is a mess, etc.

Nearly every homeschooling article I write, I get someone who says, "yeah but....." about being a single mom who can't teach their children, or about public schools, or about some other exception.

Same with Parenting. Same with breastfeeding. Same with discipline. Etc. Etc. ETC.

Et Cetera.
Jess

Jess said...

Oh, and I'm certainly not failing to acknowledge anything. I've actually said what you just said in this very comment thread... that some men just opt for sin. That can't be helped or prevented. And it's terribly sad when it happens.

Claire said...

Jess, I think the 'yeah, but..'s aren't doing so to be deliberately contrary, or to annoy you. It's just that this IS a very complicated issue, and there are as many different circumstances as there are married couples, and everyone reads this thinking of different situations... I'm sure you know that, I just thought I'd point it out again because I don't want you to think that the many responses this article has gotten is because it wasn't a great article (it was!), it's just that maybe one article can never touch on everything? Maybe this response is just natural and to be expected?

My response was a lot like Deb's... I just feel so sad knowing that so many couples have such a hard time being open about intimacy. It really breaks my heart. God bless you, Jess, for doing your part to improve this! It's so needed.

Can I make a suggestion? The way the beginning of the article is worded, "What would you say to this man?" and then giving HIS testimony, just set me up entirely thinking what I could say to him. I think, if the purpose was to consider what we as wives can do better, making the post from the wives perspective might be helpful. As it was, all my thoughts are based around advice to him.

In particular, I found these statements very telling: "[She]has made it clear that she thinks we're on this rice diet together" and "Whenever I've tried to say something, she takes it as a complaint about her cooking and gets emotional and then things become even more tense and rigid."

The advice I had in mind after reading was, 'Man, you need to be more patient here! She's obviously tremendously upset about this - and if she's 'taking' what you say as a complaint about her cooking, you need to work on the way you're expressing yourself! Start by complimenting her cooking like crazy. Every time she adds a vegetable, go into raptures. SHOW her how pleased her cooking can make you, and how happy it makes you, and ENCOURAGE her. Saying 'but I want meat!' is a bit of a slap in the face if it's taken her a great deal of effort to just get one vegetable ready. So compliment the heck outta that vegetable! Talk about vegetables you had before, that you liked the way they were prepared - focus on POSITIVES, because your wife's reaction is so overwhelmed with guilt, pouring more guilt on her isn't going to help any. Show her how she's a wonderful cook, and she'll start to believe she can handle meat".

Now, of course I would also have words for the wives in question, but the way the question was phrased, made me mostly focus on the man's actions. I think that might be a partial explanation for some of the responses you've gotten?

But you're so right in everything you say about the wife, Jess, really. And you're absolutely right to address yourself to wives. I just think that maybe giving us a wife's perspective might help us focus on HER actions? I think when confronted with a husband's testimony, it's only natural to start thinking about husband's actions. I hope this helps! Thank you so much for such an interesting post :)

Catherine R. said...

I also just wanted to say that I don't think Jess is trying to place blame on women (as a few have suggested). We, as Christians in general, are called to do what's right without conditions imposed or expectation of reciprocation (hard, I know). If wives know they're doing their best then there's no need for guilt or self condemnation if the husband chooses to be sinful, however painful that is for the wife. BUT a lot of guys are nice and would probably not complain as long as the rice pilaf is not withheld. I am willing to bet some are pretty darn easy to please as long as they're getting something to work with.

As for my "hooker" comment : } I think some of us may suffer a little different ailment from overly prude Christian women...we think that you have to be perfect looking etc. I am learning that my husband actually thinks I'm pretty without makeup for example. Sometimes I think the only problem is that I sometimes can't accept that he really likes me just how I am.

Jess said...

Claire,
Good suggestion; I changed the opening to reflect more of the angle I'm trying to shed light on.


As for the exceptions, yeah-- I know they're there... and it is one of those things that I just have had to get over as a blogger. Like you said, every reader comes with their own colored glasses that they're viewing the article through... and the same words can be read so many different ways.

It still can admittedly be frustrating to hear so many "yeah buts", but I get it... I know why people write that... it's just that when you're talking in broad or general biblical principles, shouldn't it be expected that you're not talking about the guy who's a total jerk and cheats just cause he wants to? Shouldn't it be obvious that the article about serving and loving your family isn't about being treated like a doormat and getting walked on and cussed at? Those are the sorts of leaps and exceptions that seem ridiculous to bring up when you're discussing basic biblical principles of life, but I know they seem real to the reader.

It's a hard and sometimes almost impossible balance to strike, at least it feels that way to me.
Jess

Christie said...

I'm a little bewildered that a post encouraging women to love their husbands in the best and most joyful way possible brings about any negative feedback. I enjoyed your post... I think we need to realize that everything we read aside from God's Word has to be "taken with a grain of salt". We won't always agree with every statement made. (And unless it's contrary to the Word of God I don't see the point in being nit-picky) :) The main point you were trying to convey is something that I truly do think many Christian wives need to hear. Unfortunately, it's an issue that many Christian wives are touchy about. :)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Jess, I currently don't have time to read all the comments (I'm sure you have an interesting discussion going on here), but I must say this is a tactful and thought-provoking analogy.

Maybe I mentioned this on your blog already, but when I was taking preparation classes for brides, the dear wise rebbetzin who taught me told me a wife must do anything in her power to be inviting and tempting to her husband, to make marital intimacy a feast rather than a bowl of dull rice. You should have seen the spark in the eyes of this strict middle-aged woman with seven children, when she talked about intimacy! God gave us and our husbands the privilege to delight in each other. Why push this away?

Kelley said...

I stumbled onto your blog and I just have to say...WOW girl!!!! :o) Keep it coming! I've enjoyed your insites and discussions and judging from the amount of comments you generate...you're touching lots of lives! I'll be checking back frequently!

Anna said...

I totally disagree with this line of thinking and think it is a bad road to get on. Whether intentional or not, it is saying that a woman is to blame if a man strays. A man is to love his wife as himself... in sickness and in health. If she has issues, they are their issues and he needs to work with her on them, not tell her she is "boring rice." If "boring rice" is all he ever ate, I imagine he would be quite pleased with it. As far as temptations go, that is what the Holy Spirit is for.
I could understand and agree with a post that says a wife (or a husband for that matter) need not have hang-ups in the bedroom. Whatever BOTH are comfortable with, is fine. But giving that advice after talking about 'boring rice' and temptation... is just wrong IMO.
What would your advice be to a woman who was tired of her boring husband who just sat around on the couch all day and did nothing?

Domestikate said...

This past weekend my husband and went to a conference and hour away and had some uninterrupted talk time as we drove. I mentioned this article and he said it was one of the best word pictures he has ever heard relating to marital intimacy. It sparked some great discussion. Thanks for posting it.

Linda said...

This post is such a good parable, it could have been written in the bible! *lol*

Amen! I love it! Christian women are confused sometimes.. they got the whole 'modesty' thing going on.. you know.. long dresses.. covered hair.. and then they forget they're not supposed to play that act for their husbands as well.. ;)

I love your post! Absolutely love it! We have a saying here that says 'when the dogs don't eat at home, they will eat in the streets'.... and of course that's just taking it one step too far, but the thought's the same..

Greetings from holland!

madgebaby said...

Jess,

I've got to disagree with you about the notion that "sin can't be helped".

That's why marriage is a vow, because it is hard but necessary for urges to be contained. Sin is sin, and that does sound like a a little bit of an excuse. Adultery is always the responsiblity of the married person who chooses to stray, period.

Mrs. C said...

Jess said, "Heck, for thousands of years, kids all around the world have slept near enough to their parents to hear and sometimes even SEE what was going on ... so for your kids to know that married men and women totally love each other and still "do it"... well, I kind of think that's really healthy actually.
"

This rice analogy was a great blog post, but I do not agree with children seeing or hearing closed door intimacy from their parents. It is not good or healthy.
Yes, help your husband and enjoy your time together, but close and lock the door and be DISCREET.

Jess said...

Madge,
I don't know where you're looking to derive an idea that I would say "sin can't be helped". Particularly in quotes-- Madge, I don't believe I've ever said any such thing; I would never intend to communicate that.

At the same time, there are certainly situations we can put ourselves OR others in that would make sin more likely. Thus, the seductive woman calling out from her home in Proverbs, looking for a man to snare. Thus, the command not to deprive one another "so that the devil may not tempt you because of your lack of self control".

Yes, sin is sin. Of course.

And yes, sin is the responsibility of the person who commits it. But sometimes others play a part in it as well. Influencing it or making it more likely to happen. (For example, the whole "Bathsheba shouldn't have been sitting up on the rooftop nekkid" thing.) ;)

~Jess

Jess said...

Mrs. C,
LOL, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

For the record, I didn't say that kids hearing and/or seeing their parents while engaged in lovemaking was healthy or good-- what I implied was that it is good for them to know that their parents still love each other and healthy that they know that their parents do stuff behind closed doors that is off-limits for others.

I'm sick of the cultural "wisdom" that says that the only people having good, fun sex are partner-switching singles in their 20's and 30's. And I DEFINITELY don't want my kids to internalize that message. So if at some point they know that mom and dad spend some "alone time" together occasionally during the day, well, I'd be OK with that. I'm not saying everyone has to. But I'm saying I think it's OK.

Blessings,
Jess

madgebaby said...

Not to be nitpicky, because I AGREE with the general premise of this original post and I think it is well written and pretty dang funny ;)

You did say in an earlier reply that "some men opt for sin. . . .and that can't be prevented or helped"

I just don't buy it, any more than a woman in a short skirt or walking to her car late at night somehow deserves to get raped or a woman ever deserves to be abused in a marriage or other relationship. Men are moral agents, too, and what they do with their minds and hearts and private parts--no matter how enticing the temptation--is entirely their responsibility.

I guess I say this because I've been the rice server, postpartum, significantly overweight, exhausted, covered with baby spit, and it took a lot of faith in my husband to know he could go on a business trip and be faithful! Now we're eating better, and the fact that I could trust him during that time is part of the reason why.

madgebaby said...

I think that, in all honesty, the best way that kids can learn about the meaning of sex is by figuring out that their parents ENJOY it. Of course discretion is important, but unless one lives in the Biltmore mansion it has its' limits :)

It's not unlike breastfeeding to me: I'd rather my boys learn about the female anatomy by them seeing me breastfeed than through the Victorias' Secret catalogue or some other, worse, source. As far as I can see, that's part of the deal about living in families, right?

We want to be our kids's "go to" for all things, particularly things like this. Like some of the other posters I worry that the concern with modesty goes too far, and interferes with the conversations we need to have with our families and our spouses.

Jess said...

Oh, THANK YOU, Madge. I had no idea where that comment had come from, as I didn't remember saying anything of the sort.

The reason I don't remember it is because that wasn't how I meant it... but now I see how it could be taken that way. What I was meaning is that some men are so hell-bent on porn, having an affair, etc., that there isn't anything anyone can do about it one way or another. Of course it is still their responsibility, and of course it is still sin.

Now I understand. Sorry for the confusion. Yes, sin is the responsibility of the sinner. At the same time, if there are other responsibilities (like being a responsive, loving wife) that I'M not carrying out, then I believe I'LL be held accountable for those things too. Does that make more sense?

OK. Anyway, thanks, Madge for quoting me so I could see where that was coming from.

madgebaby said...

You're very welcome. I love your blog, by the way. I'm thinking we would not agree with every thing were we to "hash it out" but I like the tone and the content of what you have to say and I appreciate your faithfulness.

When men are "trained" to be jerks, and women are "trained" to obey men, only heartache can follow unless this pattern is changed. I have two boys, and my husband and I are trying to however imperfectly model a world where men and women love and respect each other--that whole for better or for worse thing that we are commissioned to redeem in our broken world as married people.

ckjolly said...

Oh dear! I know exactly what it's like to write a post like this and IMMEDIATELY someone jumps in and says "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HUSBAND!!!" Yeh, see ... I'm not writing to your husband. I'm writing to all of us women and discussing OUR responsibility. I stand by you, sister.

Meagan said...

Carolyn Mahaney had the best advice I've heard on this subject. To a new mom, " Make him a PB & J for dinner and give him great sex after" -- made me think to prioritize, according to my husband's preferences, not my own (think Phil.2:2-3). Also, she mentioned in the same speech that our goal as wives should be to make him say, "Mercy" during intimacy, in that we should "wow" our husbands, break out of that sex routine and maybe even wear something a little risque!
Great post.
I appreciated reading your responses, Jess, to readers, that you are addressing what we as wives can do, not anyone elses' behavior, etc. You are much more gentle and tactful than I have been mentally as I've read a few of these comments.

Juliet said...

Hi Jess,
Yet another comment rolls in about this post!
I loved it... although I've read similar things before, it's always very valuable to get a reminder- of course we don't go around with these thoughts continually in our heads!!

I have read a couple of great books which have helped me in this area- "For Women Only" by Shaunti Feldhahn and "Red Hot Monogamy" by Bill & Pam Farrell. By the sounds of things, you might definitely enjoy that one yourself! (Hee hee!)
Thanks to these books and some quality communication, I think the quality of our 'dinners' has definitely improved.

Mr. Moose said...

Hi Jess,

I think the analogy given is fitting and may be helpful.

If anything I could do I would only ask readers to consider that the analogy is perhaps more mild than the reality.

(I believe you already understand this but I'm writing to explain my comment.)

When a husband and wife enter into marriage, they enter into a partnership in the area of sexual sharing which is a bit unique and different from almost any other aspect of human relationship.

The two of you trust and depend on one another for fulfillment! It's not possible to have fulfillment alone, and it's a sin to pursue fulfillment with anyone else.

The picture is one of intense inter-dependency. Intense trusting of one another in this dimension of life -- that each will pursue the other's fulfillment.

Returning to analogy, I picture a scene in which each man or woman individually has only one arm and can hold only a single chopstick. You cannot pick up rice or anything else with a single chopstick; you cannot eat.

When a husband and wife marry they enter into a lifetime agreement to feed one another. Each one of you has a chopstick that is vital to either of you eating (at all).

If you think about it, it's most likely that you'll be able to see how ***beautiful*** this picture is. The partnership in fulfilling needs that God designed so that they cannot be met alone. Trust, kindness, giving, intense inter-dependency. Partnership carried out with character.

Now, what do you think happens to the relationship when one spouse says "Well, yeah, you're depending on me for partnership and fulfillment, but I just don't care about this part of life."

Guys, and in fewer cases women, believe they've entered into this very spiritually significant partnership which is SIN to stray from, only to find after-the-fact that their spouse is telling them "you can go starve."

I think that we as a people have become so accustomed to deprivation that I don't think we're sensitive anymore to just how bad/ugly of a thing we're doing to our spouse when we treat them this way.

(And I'm not talking about physical disabilities, disease, and so forth, many of which can be "worked around" to create a sexual relationship of SOME kind for our spouse.)

One more thought: what about Matthew 5:23-24? How are we doing if we already know, without even being told, that our spouse is continually feeling left-in-the-lurch by us sexually?

Is the prevailing attitude, "He's just a man, so I'm supposed to make him unsatisfied in this area all the time."?

Or in fewer cases, "She's a woman, and I 'know' that women have lower desire so whatever I give her should be good enough."?

Disclaimer: I have been sensitized to this issue because in the past my wife told me it was possible that I would die childless because she would refuse partnership in sexual intimacy with me .... her stated preference was to practice an asexual relationship.

Mrs. Lindblom said...

This is a great post. It's so funny b/c I've been reading a book recently that has been saying the same thing and now, reading this post, has really hit it home with me. :)

Carrianne said...

My husband always says, "Sex is like pizza. Even when it's day-old and cold, it's still pretty good." Sorry, I couldn't resist. Love this article. Not at all what I expected.

Carrianne said...
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