Every Monday I like to post a reader question and take a stab at answering it. I’ve dealt with what to do if your spouse doesn’t find you attractive, when your husband isn’t a spiritual leader, how to prevent an emotional affair, and tons of others.
But today’s question is a little different.
Last week I published a post on family vacations and sex–what do you do if you’re in a small space with a bunch of kids? Is romance out for the week? And basically I said, if you have a good marriage at home, and you’re making sure to get away as a couple periodically, it really is okay to take a week and just focus on being parents, with the occasional quickie if you can manage it. Being in close quarters with children just makes sex difficult, and honestly, sometimes it’s time just to be parents.
I thought that was reasonable, and the vast majority of readers did as well, though some mentioned some creative ways to make love when you’re traveling.
But a few men commented, and one in particular made quite a big deal out of the fact that women would even dream of going on a vacation where sex was not stressed. One man said that to him, sex was 75% of the appeal of the vacation.
I let those comments through, though I debated them.
Then the emails started to come from women. For instance, here’s how some women reading this whole thread interpreted it:
My husband has recently battled a porn addiction and he hasn’t watched porn for over a year. But instead he just talks about sex and talks dirty to me all the time, even when other people are around. We’ll be out at a state campground fishing for tadpoles with the little boys and he’ll lean in and say something really sexually over the top about me. And I can’t understand why he doesn’t get that it’s totally gross to be sex-crazed in front of little kids! Why can’t he just leave it until a better time?
But maybe all men are like that. I read these comments and I’m just left thinking, “God really did make men pigs.” They can’t control themselves. They can’t ever just be a dad and wait for a better time. And I’m just in tears. I want a man who will respect me for me, and who I can make love to, not someone who is always talking about what he wants to do with my boobs. I’m just exhausted. But I guess all men are like that.
I understand where this woman is coming from, because I get some of those thoughts after reading some comments on this blog and many of the emails I receive. There are days when I have to mentally prepare myself, half an hour before my husband gets home, and tell myself, over and over, “Keith is not like these guys. Keith is a good man who truly loves me.” But if you weren’t sure that you had such a good guy–if you were struggling in your marriage as this woman is, and then you read all of those comments, those comments can really make your marriage worse.
And that’s where I’m struggling as a blogger.
There are a handful of men who comment on this blog and leave WONDERFUL, uplifting comments. There’s one I’m thinking of in particular who is in his 70s, and he has sent through lovely bits of encouragement of things that he has learned in his marriage. There are others who have left comments who are really struggling because their wives are truly being difficult in their marriage, and the men want to love their wives and do the right thing, and they really need advice and encouragement. I hope that I can help (and indeed, I’m planning on another post to write for these men to show their wives, because I’ve had a number of requests for it. I do have one here, but I’ll write another one).
But then there are some who comment a lot who seem to have their own agenda, and I can’t quite figure out what it is.
One of the common themes seems to be that women need to have sex lots in their marriage–something that I agree with and that I’ve written a ton about–including in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and in 31 Days to Great Sex (and here’s a post on how often married couples should make love).
But they often comment telling me that I don’t stress sex enough, and last week’s post was an example of that. However, that’s not the only post where it’s come up. When I wrote that men shouldn’t demand sex during a woman’s period or for the six weeks after childbirth, I was taken to task for that. When I wrote that “do not deprive” does not mean that a woman can’t refuse sex ever, I was taken for task for that. When I wrote that not all porn use is caused by wives refusing to have sex (and indeed most husbands’ porn addictions today predate the marriage), I was taken to task for that.
Things that to me are about common sense, and balance, are constantly put down. And after I received close to a dozen emails and Facebook messages specifically about the comments on that camping post last week–I’ve never had that happen before in one day–I realized I had to change the way I do things.
I believe that this blog is a ministry, and I want to help people in their marriages. In fact, I would sum up my mission statement on this blog like this:
Pointing women towards the goal of fulfilling, intimate relationships with God first, their husbands second, and their kids third. Helping women find the joy in marriage again, specifically by pointing them to the importance of intimacy of all types: physical, spiritual, and emotional.
That’s what I want to do.
And I believe that I do that in my posts. People may disagree with me; they may think I don’t emphasize submission in marriage enough, or I don’t talk about sex enough. But then, you see, they’re coming with their own agenda.
It is fine to have your own agenda, but I do not have to give people room to push their agenda, especially if the way that they push it directly contradicts my mission. Last week, by letting many of those comments through, I think that I violated my mission, as is evidenced from that woman’s viewpoint. She was already struggling, and these comments made her situation worse, not better. I certainly don’t mind putting up comments that disagree with me (take a look at the submission post, for instance), but I don’t want to put up comments that I believe will be harmful to women who are already struggling and reading this blog.
I understand that some of my male commenters are very passionate about marriage in their own way, and I truly don’t think that these men understand how their comments come across to the hurting women who are reading them. I think these men think they are being helpful, whereas from what I know about women, and about the women who read this blog, they are not.
The problem last week was that I let the comments go on too much–I should have let one through and then left it at that. When only a few guys comment, and they comment A LOT, the impression given is certainly that “all men are like that”.
There is etiquette in parts of the blogging community that you just let all comments through–whether you agree with them or not. Political blogs tend to do that. Opinion blogs do that. They’re for debates.
I originally thought I would do that, but I’m starting to realize that it can be detrimental to my mission. I’m not just writing a blog for people to post their opinions–I’m really honestly trying to help marriages. And if the comments don’t do that, then I have to rethink my comment policy.
I have so many women emailing me now saying they want to comment, but they find the comment section so nasty. And that’s not really helpful towards creating the kind of community I want here.
I’m sorry if I inadvertently hurt any of you last week. And so I’ve decided to not let any more comments through from that household.
But now I’d like YOU to help ME.
I’ve been thinking about this whole issue of community–how we can build one more, and how we can encourage one another. I WANT lots of comments that encourage each other, and even lots of comments with suggestions and “here’s what worked for me” things. I even want comments that challenge people politely and gently. I just don’t want anymore comments that I feel are very harmful to women who are struggling.
I want to create a place where those of you who DON’T comment will feel safe commenting. So ESPECIALLY if you haven’t commented before, can you leave one now and tell me what I can do to make this blog community more welcoming for you? I really do want to work at creating a helpful community, and if many of you all are afraid of commenting, or steer away from the comments section in fear of what you will read, I’m obviously not doing my job.
But I’m also thinking that maybe we could build more of a safe community vibe if we could come up with a name for those of us who are here at this blog, trying to improve our marriages. You know how some bloggers give names to their readers? I’d like to give us names. I just can’t think of any. I don’t want the name to be anything to do with MY name–like Sheilaites, or something like that. I don’t want it to be about me, but about marriage.
Here’s one that WOULDN’T work, but gives the kind of feel I’m thinking of: HotMamas. It wouldn’t work because we’re not all Mamas, and I’m sick of emphasizing “hot”. But that kind of cute thing. So that I can ask questions at the end of posts, like, “What do all you XXs think?”
And I want this SO badly I’ll give $50 worth of products to whoever comes up with the winning name! I’ll leave this thread open for a week and then I’ll put up my favourites here and on Facebook so we can vote on it.
So leave me a comment, telling me:
1. How can we make this more of a safe community, with a great comment section? AND
2. What name should we use for all of us?
Thanks so much! Eager to see your responses.