Trust In God But Tie Up Your Camel

I have many readers that are Christians and have had a variant on the below email several times now. The topic of the blog is marriage, but as full disclosure I am an atheist, so you may take from this what you will.
I’m thinking more strategically now – and working out regularly. I’m trying to be relentless about checking anything that could be construed as a lack of confidence – and trying to not wear my emotions on my sleeve as much as I do. I feel I do need to project a cheerful strength more: in dealing with the kids, in brushing off rejection like its no big thing (instead of trying to psychologize her, etc), in more eagerly and vigorously taking on home improvement tasks (in the past: I’d rather read a history book…)

Not sure the MAP as you put it will work for me, as its sink or swim. I don’t think I could ever leave my wife. I’m a Christian, and I don’t even want to think that way (not being a chump here: its almost 100% certain my wife would not leave me either) – God is either going to answer my prayers, or I’m just going to be miserable (though I’m thinking things can certainly improve).
Being Christian does complicate things in running The MAP. I was a Christian so do completely get the framework that you are working from.
By being a committed Christian you are hampered in doing what I suggest. For sure you can do most of it, but when push comes to shove, I think you forcing the issue to a divorce for a lack of sex in the marriage is against Christian beliefs. Which by my approach means you have essentially declawed yourself as you have no ultimate threat to reach for. Oneitis is divinely mandated.
Hopefully though, because she is a Christian too, she has taken on board the divine mandate of staying married as well. So she’s declawed as well… so hopefully it’s an even balance as she is required to have Oneitis as well.
But then being mandated does nothing to get the juices going between her legs either. It doesn’t make either one of you want the other sexually… all that needs to come from attraction and comfort building. So the MAP does work for that.
However…
Regardless of a perceived sin/heaven/hell/immoral consequence… your marriage is an earthly legal construct and there can be earthly consequences for failing to continue to attract your wife. I’ve seen “good people” of all religious viewpoints, or lack thereof, turn absolutely feral on their spouse when they come into contact with someone that actually does attract them.
So despite having lived a life of faith, you may one day find yourself dealing with an unfaithful situation.
I believe you are foolish to rely on a shared religious framework to maintain and justify the continuation of your marriage forever. Shared beliefs certainly do provide a positive influence on your marriage, but there are other influences to account for as well. If you are a husband, you must to some degree actively continue to court her for the entirety of the marriage… or risk its failure.
So if you believe, by all means trust in God.  But also work out, make good money and when she is ovulating… hit it like you mean it.
There was once a man who was on his way back home from market with his camel and, as he’d had a good day, he decided to stop at a mosque along the road and offer his thanks to God.
He left his camel outside and went in with his prayer mat and spent several hours offering thanks to Allah, praying and promising that he’d be a good Muslim in the future, help the poor and be an upstanding pillar of his community.
When he emerged it was already dark and lo and behold – his camel was gone!
He immediately flew into a violent temper and shook his fist at the sky, yelling:
“You traitor, Allah! How could you do this to me? I put all my trust in you and then you go and stab me in the back like this!”
A passing sufi dervish heard the man yelling and chuckled to himself.
“Listen,” he said, “Trust God but, you know, tie up your camel.”
 

Comments

  1. dalrock says:

    Outstanding parable. Reminds me of Reagan's "Trust but verify".

  2. Athol Kay says:

    Trust but verify is very sound advice too.

  3. Ephesians 6:12

    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

    Matthew 10:16

    "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."

    As a Christian you should be on guard against the devil…cuz his aim is to destroy you and lead you, your wife, and your children into sin.

    You should trust that people to have good intentions, but recognize that Satan one tricky mo-fo and can sneak up on even the best Christians. You should consider yourself and your wife very vulnerable to temptation.

    While you might not get a divorce..you do have some marital discipline at your disposal. You are not forbidden from living in separate residences and withholding some financial support for a period of time.

  4. Orville says:

    For any Christian men or women reading…1 Cor 7 says neither party can withhold sex except under a very specific and narrow cause that both consent to. The term used in the withholding is literally to defraud or hold back. In the Bible marriage isn't a legal construct approved by the state, but a divine construct that is initiated by sexual relations. Some of us interpret that to mean that defrauding your spouse of sex is tantamount to divorce in a biblical sense. So while the state may view you as married, if the sex stops, for all practical purposes you are already divorced.

  5. Fellow Christian here in a similar situation.

    Remember your marriage vows to be faithful to each other. Faithfulness can be violated on both ends of the spectrum – by cheating/divorcing (one end) or by withholding sex/attention/whatever from your partner (the opposite end). So while you may never divorce or cheat, your wife right now is less than completely faithful to you because she is withholding herself from you.

    Something to think about and try talking with her about; that you are being faithful by not cheating, and you refuse to divorce, but that she is violating the faithfulness in your marriage by witholding from you.

    Philip

  6. Phil Mueller says:

    @Philip:
    You are completely right, and that tactic may get you something; but I believe Athol would say that grudging obligatory sex isn't really the goal. Actually for me I'd almost rather have nothing than sex where I know she is only doing it out of duty and not enjoying it. The emotional and unitive aspect of married sex is really the whole point (if you aren't trying to conceive a child). Without that you might as well masturbate.

  7. Athol Kay says:

    I do agree that a wife refusing sex endlessly is breaking the marriage agreement. But as Phil said, grudging obligatory sex isn't much fun.

    Quoting scripture of any kind at someone in an effort to change their behavior is a form of manipulation and control. It may be effective in the short term and get you a few extra lays, but over the long term resistance to the control will build and be counter-productive.

    The solution remains the same, you have to become more attractive and pull her interest, or be prepared to walk away from what is already dead.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hey – I'm the guy Athol is writing about.

    Athol:

    "I believe you are foolish to rely on a shared religious framework to maintain and justify the continuation of your marriage forever. Shared beliefs certainly do provide a positive influence on your marriage, but there are other influences to account for as well. If you are a husband, you must to some degree actively continue to court her for the entirety of the marriage… or risk its failure."

    I agree with this entirely. In short, for these past several years, I had rarely been deliberate about trying to attract my wife to me or – even more – getting on a consistent program of self-improvement to draw her in.

    I am now, and so far, I have seen results. I am tempted to post here what I wrote in my "map results" word document this morning, but I am not comfortable doing that. Let's just say things are picking up (what I wrote this morning, recalling last night, was pretty hot, and I used a lot of what Athol teaches and saw a lot of what Athol said I would see***) – thankfully, my wife realizes I Corinthians 7 is there to, and I think now, since she has seen my headship "actualized" a bit more, she is getting more likely to see this not as an obligation that she must do, but as a wonderful encouragement to to take part in something she finds herself wanting to do.

    As much as I disagree with many things that Athol says, I realize that there is much wisdom in his words – and I owe him a debt of gratitude. The Church used to call this "natural law" (here's a recent treatment in my church where they are trying to renew this understanding: http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Law-Reappraisal-Robert-Baker/dp/0758627335/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305549772&sr=1-5 ) – that is, recognizing that there are some things that are the same from culture to culture and place to place. I know Athol would look to evo psych here – I look to places like Romans 1, Proverbs, and Acts 14 to explain this phenomenon.

    "The solution remains the same, you have to become more attractive and pull her interest, or be prepared to walk away from what is already dead."

    This is right on, I think. I am very uncomfortable with the idea that I should ever consciously push things towards divorce – or even separating temporarily – as I don't even want to "go there" as far as thinking of plan Bs. I've got quite a few very young children to, and this makes things even more impossible.

    In any case, it looks like I don't need to worry about sinking. I think God is answering my prayers through Athol. I've downloaded the Song of Soloman from here (http://jcsm.org/1on1/OTBibleonMP3.htm ) and have been listening to it over and over again. I know the Church says that this is ultimately supposed to be about Christ and His Church, but for now, it is taking on a decidedly different meaning for me. (like: wow, God created us to be very sexual indeed : ) ). I hope to explore more deeply the more spiritual interpretation later on… my mind is elsewhere right now. : )

    *** quotes from it:

    Bang. Unbelievable. Mark last night on the calendar as one to remember. Athol Kay is a genius…

    Thank you God for Athol Kay. Score. And this is something that I am going to be trying very hard to continue because I could definitely get used to this….

  9. Anonymous says:

    Athol:

    "The solution remains the same, you have to become more attractive and pull her interest, or be prepared to walk away from what is already dead."

    I said: I think this is right on, but I only meant to quote the first part of that. I am not convinced that I – or anyone – should be prepared to walk away from what is already dead. Confront? Yes. Improve self? Yes. Pray? Yes. Walk away permanently? (I might be able to sympathize with the man who moves out but refuses to divorce) No.

    Let me just say this: in my case at least, as regards my being the man my wife needed me to be, I was the one who was already dead.

    My guess is that I may not have been the only one.

    -Same guy as above (the one Athol quoted in this post)

  10. Anonymous says:

    My guess is that I may not have been the only one.

    should be

    My guess is that I may not be the only man out there who was.

  11. Divorce may be something many people are against, on paper. But what about the marriages that while they are still legally valid (i.e. no formal court proceeding), emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually … they are anything but?

    While I'm pro marriage and against divorce as well – I think I'm against monotonous and boring marriages more. Just a thought.

  12. Strong Man says:

    I'm a Christian who is similarly committed to marriage, not divorce.

    Still, I've found Athol's basic concepts about focusing on improving yourself, building your own personal confidence, and not acting desperate as making a lot of sense, and compatible with scripture.

    I also fully agree with Athol about not using scripture as a way to get her to do follow you. Perhaps, though, it could be a mutual journey that you both try to understand God's direction for your marriage though studying together. And that can probably help.

    Still–just doing the commandments out of duty won't make her wet and excited.

    If you want it to be fun, step up your game and decide for yourself what you will accept and how you'll behave. She'll be much more likely to come along for the ride.

  13. Orville says:

    Athol, I totally agree that hammering your spouse with the Bible or any other set of rules isn't going to work. It's a leadership/seduction issue. I was just addressing the commentator's thought on divorce.

  14. Phil Mueller says:

    I am also a Christian and take the command against divorce seriously. Perhaps that somewhat defangs the "stick" side of the MAP, but to me it just means I need to work twice as hard to ensure it never reaches that point.

    As for depending on our shared beliefs to keep my wife faithful, that's just silly. I trust my wife more than anyone, but I recognize that she is human and no more immune from temptation than I am. It's my job to make it as easy as possible for her to choose me when a choice arises. : )

  15. Athol Kay says:

    I am de facto against divorce as a basic approach. I always see that as the last "nuclear" option. I'm sure everyone sees that I work very hard to avoid that fate for all my readers.

    However… divorce is part of the Marriage 2.0 playbook. So it is part of the toolset I have to explore. And something that you may have to face one day whether you choose to or not.

    I'm just pragmatic about it.

  16. Phil Mueller says:

    "[Divorce is] something that you may have to face one day whether you choose to or not."

    Sad but all too true in this day and age.

    In any event I'd bet that if your book (including the bits on the "nuclear option") were required reading to get a marriage license, overall divorce rates would go down rather than up. You are a force for good Athol.

  17. @Athol and Phil,

    I wasn't saying to use the "be faithful to me" as a stick so much as a point of understanding.

    It's easy for the wife to try and pigeonhole you as a sex-crazed man; or her mind runs wild and she accuse you of cheating (my wife did… no, I was not…) But the opposite end of faithfulness is something she needs to think and pray about and talk with you about.

    Compromise means meeting somewhere in the middle, right?

    philip

  18. Anonymous says:

    Great comments here! And Athol: this is gold. My dear Anon, congrats to you! Indeed, the basics of what Athol teaches are good and Scripturally compatible.

    "Quoting scripture of any kind at someone in an effort to change their behavior is a form of manipulation and control. It may be effective in the short term and get you a few extra lays, but over the long term resistance to the control will build and be counter-productive"

    This is true, but it's also true for some of the suggestions involving manipulation that you've made, Athol.

    "The solution remains the same, you have to become more attractive and pull her interest, or be prepared to walk away from what is already dead"

    True. Sometimes I just think your approach is too pragmatic, or "ready" for divorce.

    Jennifer 6

  19. Anonymous says:

    Paige, your comments are perfect. I don't see divorce as using something for a threat to the other spouse; the real threat to both of them is a failed marriage, which is miserable even if it's still legally intact.

    Jennifer 6

  20. Athol Kay says:

    Jennifer 6 – "Sometimes I just think your approach is too pragmatic, or "ready" for divorce."

    The book is fairly clear that there's no rush to divorce. You keep stating that a divorce ultimatum is my prefered tool and it's frankly getting annoying.

    The prefered tool to influencing the wife's interest is simply increasing your Sex Rank and for men that can take six months to a year to increase Sex Rank a single point.

  21. Anonymous says:

    "The prefered tool to influencing the wife's interest is simply increasing your Sex Rank"

    Yes, with your suggestion to keep in mind from the start that if they don't respond, you can always just get someone else eventually. That's what I call being too ready, and compared to a Christian I really think you are.

    Jennifer 6

  22. Anonymous says:

    Ok, to be clear since you made a post about this: I don't think you have your finger always over the divorce button, Athol; it's clear you only use that as a last resort. Sometimes though the idea of a set number of phases, for every marriage, seems risky. (Plus, the whole sex-rank thing seems off-putting to me, trying to see if you're less hot than your spouse. Ugh). Anyway, it's not at all the self-improvement idea I've had any concerns with; some problems just go deeper, and when the lady in one of the past posts began an ultimatum phase, it was that (the phases to go through before actually getting a divorce) that concerned me, not her plan to improve herself; self-improvement is important, and even bringing up divorce is different from actually carrying it out; it shows the other spouse that you're serious and worried about things. It was the ultimatum phase, and the general belief of anyone that following a set number of actions before cutting off a spouse, regardless of the individual issues involved, is the best decision that worried me. The MAP itself is a positive plan; what I don't like is any implication that divorce must follow if it doesn't work, or that it will definitely fix everything by itself. Nor do I care for the replaceable spouse attitude I've seen so many people have. This, and the occasional games people have advocated spouses play with each other, are what's unChristian and often unreasonable.

    But ultimately, if strangers place their futures in your hands and decide to use action-phases as a cure for any deeper issues, it's their problem, not yours. I don't believe this blog alone ever propelled anyone into divorce, Athol; people are far from helpless at your advice.

    Jennifer 6

  23. Anonymous says:

    From your new post:

    "Most all reader email tells me that it worked quickly and the wives were responsive by Phase Three or Four"

    If this is mostly men not getting sex, sounds like the majority of cases are indeed lack of sexual attraction. If so, no wonder they were "simple" to fix just by using MAP.

  24. Athol Kay says:

    "The MAP itself is a positive plan; what I don't like is any implication that divorce must follow if it doesn't work, or that it will definitely fix everything by itself."

    I'm extremely clear that the wife may not respond to The MAP. You simply haven't read the book. It's an explicit warning in the Introduction – available for free in the top bar.

  25. Anonymous says:

    "I'm extremely clear that the wife may not respond to The MAP"

    Yes, you were; sorry to indicate otherwise. The concern for me then was that divorce seems a ready response if it doesn't work, or the thought that you need to be better-looking than your wife so you can be in control and leave her, or subtly taunt her with the idea of leaving, if she doesn't respond. Of course it's the individual couple's job to look for any deeper issues if MAP peters out, but some of the readers here have seemed somewhat dim in that regard; others, though, worked things out beautifully. In any case, I'm glad I better understand the general goal of MAP, and the one general problem it usually addresses and fixes; nice work.

    Jennifer 6

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