The Thinking 

A Rejected Husband

June 12, 2014


EDDIE writes:

A very good day to you and greetings from Malaysia. I am seeking your advice on my problems with my wife who is turning cold towards me. I am 59 years of age and my wife is 54.

My problem started two years ago after my hip replacement surgery. Before I went in for the operation I was earning a good income and my contract was not renewed due to my disability now as my left leg is shorter then the right. You see, in Malaysia the disabled are a disadvantaged group. Coming back to my wife, she started to be cold towards me after I lost my job as she has to bear with the household expenses. I was dead broke but I never asked her for money as I managed to earn my pocket money from the few part time writing work I did. I am still very loving to her under such circumstances but my love for her is not reciprocated the way I wanted it to be. I am physically able albeit my shorter leg as I do a lot of exercise to strengthen my body, which is in tip top condition. My sexual drive is very strong and every time I made advances to her she rejected me. She is a gorgeous lady even in her mid-fifties and still desirable.

To me, intimate relations with your spouse is a bonding of love and if the wife refuses this relationship to me there is no more love. My wife’s finances are stable due to her savings and job and I know deep inside she is preparing her old age for herself as I am a burden to her and this is not in her plans. This really saddened me and I cried every time I am alone, thinking about leaving her and being on my own. I can’t do it at the moment as my finances is at an all-time low and this has caused much depression on me. My wife loves her money more than anything else and throughout the years I paid for everything: the mortgage of the house, the family holidays, etc. as I was earning very good money then. As I aged, there is not much left and no source of income. I am devastated and sad at this turn of events and my only crime is I have no money.

Please advise me what to do and as a staunch Catholic, I pray everyday to seek the Lord help to change my wife ways and also I forgive her for what she is doing to me.

Laura writes:

I don’t know how common it is in Malaysia for employers to cut off those who have physical problems such as yours, but it’s certainly heartless.

You might be interested in this talk (and this one) by Father Chad Ripperger, in which he discusses why it is a mortal sin for a spouse to deny sexual relations and affection to a husband or wife who is faithful and not guilty of cruelty. This is a violation of the marital vow. Your wife is not making her life any better by denying you love. It is a true hardship to see your marriage suspended in this way. I can understand why you are distressed.

But I am wondering whether you also violated your marriage. You don’t mention children. Is your wife’s anxiety about her old age worse because you have few or no children? When you were younger, did you embrace the primary purpose of marriage, which is to have children?

You might sleep in a separate room for now. This will lessen her power to punish you, if that is indeed what she is doing. And you can use this time to make reparation for your own acts of selfishness. It is a big mistake to focus your mind and energies on what your wife is not doing for you.

I recommend some of the other talks by Father Ripperger. This is June, and so you might also consider the devotion to the Sacred Heart to help you and guide you.

— Comments —

Anti-Globalist Expatriate writes:

The handicapped, the mentally retarded, the crippled, etc. are looked down upon and regularly ridiculed in television programs and the like throughout Asia. Even in Muslim Malaysia, the Buddhist concept of karma is very influential in the culture; the generally-unspoken assumption is that those who suffer from such problems deserve it, whether from misdeeds in a supposed previous life, bad character, evil acts committed by ancestors and/or living relatives, etc.

Marriage in Asian societies is a largely economic arrangement, in most cases; while love matches are more common than before, the primary purpose of a woman marrying a man is to bear children who will support them both in their old age, and in particular to benefit the relatives of the woman.

I don’t know why someone who lives in Malaysia, whether a native or a Western expatriate, wouldn’t already understand these aspects of Asian society. Is Eddie a Western expatriate married to a Malaysian woman?

Many Western men who marry Asian women don’t understand that in the hierarchy of importance of their new brides, they fall well below the wife’s entire extended family, plus any children she might have from a previous relationship. If a Western man and an Asian woman have children together, as half-breeds, they will be mercilessly taunted at school and regarded as less worthy than ‘pure’ Malaysians (or Thais, or Chinese, or Koreans, or Japanese, or whatever).

It’s quite common for the Asian wife of a Western expatriate, as well as her family and friends, to refer to the Western husband as ‘the foreigner’ when discussing matters in their own language (assuming the Western husband hasn’t learned enough of the local language and regional dialect to understand what they’re saying). In Asian languages which contain gendered pronouns (the Thai language notably does not make use of gendered pronouns, nor of past, present, or future tenses), it is also common for the Western husband to be referred to as an ‘it,’ rather than as ‘he.’

Laura writes:

Thank you for your observations, which are so unfamiliar to Westerners, most of whom would adamantly deny them.

Mary writes:

Of course the wife in this situation has a duty owed to her husband regardless of his situation and she is in the wrong on that count. But I wonder at the husband’s apparent comfort with the separation of finances in this relationship – he “never asked her for money”, “[her] finances are stable”, she “loves her money”, she has her own savings, etc. It doesn’t sound like a particularly traditional marriage and if that is true then the wife’s understanding of, or cooperation with, traditional Catholic teachings such as the marital duty will be mitigated especially if they, as Laura mentioned, purposely avoided having children, which creates deep spiritual division. He won’t be able to (and one could argue has no right to, at this point) draw from that well if he hasn’t filled it during the earlier years of their marriage.

There are some pieces missing from this puzzle. Is the husband hanging around the house all day doing very little (no housework, cooking, etc.), or God forbid watching TV, while she works all day? He says he is in tiptop shape – has he done everything in his power to find some kind of work, even if it is less prestigious than his former work? Is his wife in the throes of menopause, which can reduce both desire and patience, albeit temporarily? Is it possible that an unemployed man in Malaysia is commonly perceived as emasculated, or that a wife’s status is lowered if she has to go to work, and that these things cause her great humiliation? Conversely, has his wife become drawn into feminism over the years in her workplace? Any of these factors would contribute to a difficult division between husband and wife.

Laura writes:

Excellent points. I actually meant to mention that Eddie should renew his work life if he is healthy.

Hurricane Betsy writes:

It would be correct to get the wife’s input before anyone jumps to any conclusions or makes any judgments.

A mortal sin to refuse to have sex with your spouse?  LOL.  Here is something to ponder:  men can, without love, have sex with just about anyone, anytime, anywhere, if they want it bad enough.  For most women, this is not the case.  Women who are upset, concerned about problems or have had a drastic change of feelings for any reason cannot do so.  Please, let us hear Eddie’s wife’s story.

If Eddie truly wants to fix his domestic problem, he must let us have the other side. No good man is suddenly going to be rejected because the wife now has to support her husband after many years of the more traditional setup.  It  appears that Eddie to his credit has worked to keep himself strong and fit in spite of his money problems.  Something else is going on, and possibly has been for some time, over and above the wife having to spend her own money for a change.  Or is there some aspect of Malaysian culture we are not aware of here?

Laura writes:

It would be correct to get the wife’s input before anyone jumps to any conclusions or makes any judgments. 

That goes without saying, but we are most likely not going to get her input. Whenever someone writes in with a relevant personal dilemma, it is assumed that the reader’s perspective has validity and yet that it is not the whole story.

A mortal sin to refuse to have sex with your spouse?  LOL. 

Why is that so funny? Yes, it is a serious sin to deny physical relations to a spouse repeatedly and especially out of spite. It’s a form of betrayal.

Here is something to ponder:  men can, without love, have sex with just about anyone, anytime, anywhere, if they want it bad enough. 

You must be joking. Men can have sex with anyone, anytime, anywhere? What world are you living in? And with whom are they having sex? Aren’t they women? Besides, Eddie doesn’t want to “have sex.” That’s the whole point. He wants love from his wife.

Hurricane writes:

I hate to be the one to have to tell you this, but 99.9% of women can’t have sex when something is really bothering them. First of all, the muscles “down there” tighten up and make entry difficult. Second, sexual secretions will not happen and the sex act will become impossible.

I listened to that priest’s lecture that you posted in your article, and all I can say is that it is filled with abstractions. Here is something about sex: it’s not the same as making a meal for your husband, washing his clothes or giving him a dose of medicine & wiping up his puke when he is very sick in bed, all of which a normal, decent woman will do no matter how upset she may be for any one of a variety of reasons. But sex is a whole other sphere.

You wouldn’t force a flower bud open; you water the plant, give it fertilizer and sunshine, and wait. Then it opens for you happily, as is God’s plan. If it doesn’t bloom, it wasn’t meant to be, Catholic dogma notwithstanding.

Laura writes:

You seem to be suggesting that I said Eddie should force himself on his wife. In reality, I said he should accept her as she is and get used to the fact that she does not want relations with him. I wrote:

And you can use this time to make reparation for your own acts of selfishness. It is a big mistake to focus your mind and energies on what your wife is not doing for you. Concentrate on adjusting yourself to her as she is now.

What you really find obnoxious is my point that a wife can be wrong in denying physical relations with her spouse. In your view, she must be always right. I don’t believe you even read all of my words. You reacted with knee-jerk resentment of all men.

 Steve writes:

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that Anti-Globalist Expatriate has used this as an opportunity to attack Asians generally, and Asian women in particular.  There’s no evidence presented of this being an interracial union.  Though I could be wrong, the fellow’s English doesn’t make him seem like a foreigner, and the inter-racial question is not something he raised.  Be that as it may, if anything, the numbers indicate that white American women are much more likely to be feminist and much more likely to initiate divorce than their Asian counterparts.  I wish that were not the case, but it is.

There are two primary scenarios where marriages break down.  The first is when the man is caught cheating or decides to leave his wife for another, usually younger, woman.  The second, which is actually much more common than the first, is where the woman gets tired of her husband and becomes unhaaaaapy (which may or may not lead to cheating before separation/divorce).  This is where the husband is perceived as too “beta.” Women are generally sexually attracted to “alpha” men (though they can value certain beta provider characteristics).  There is nothing unbiblical about this natural concept, and indeed the men of the Bible can provide examples of strong masculinity.

Saying the woman is in the wrong (i.e., it’s wrong to deny sex) will almost never revise the woman’s sexual attraction (in fact, the complaining further diminishes the man in her eyes).  Instead, the man should work on making himself more attractive.  Seems he is doing all he can on physical fitness.  This is good.  He should learn about “the red pill” and “hypergamy” on men’s sites.  There is a wealth of knowledge out there, and much of it is from the Christian perspective.  He needs to learn about women’s fitness tests and how to pass them.  If he is seen as complaining and whining, his wife will not value him.  He must never cry in front of her.  This is something women can’t handle.  They need a strong, confident, playful leader.  He needs to cultivate this kind of personality (the exact opposite is in evidence from his email).  He also should have a primary passion or hobby.  It would be best to find another job, but if not he should find something to do.  Preferably, he should be outside of the house for most of the day, and may disappear from time to time to handle his business.  A woman doesn’t want a man to cheat on her, but she is attracted to a man who would have options/opportunity.  I know 59 is pushing it, but if he can be in good shape and attractive to other women (I am not suggesting he cheat with them), this will naturally get the spark going with his wife.

A few generations ago, we had quite a number of manly men who were brought up to act in just this way, and were loved and respected by their wives.  Now we have boys being taught to act like girls and girls being taught to act like boys.

Laura writes:

I  agree that Eddie should not cry in front of his wife, whine to her or complain about her lack of attention.

I also strongly agree that a man in Eddie’s situation should cultivate his strength and masculinity, and that this is the best way to stimulate a wife’s genuine interest.

However, assuming that what Eddie has said is true, he has experienced physical and financial misfortune. To the extent that Game theory views women as Pavlovian, animalistic creatures incapable of empathy for men in their times of weakness, it is reductive and simplistic.

Yes, it is very important to acknowledge the innate tendency in women to want strength in men. But this innate tendency shouldn’t be exaggerated either and it shouldn’t obscure the fact that no matter how much you study the instinctive behavior of men and women, couples can never summon duty and love purely and solely on an understanding of these natural drives. Love is not all nature. As I said, it is wrong, and a violation of the marital vow, to deny physical relations continually to a spouse who is faithful. There is just no excuse for it in such a case as Eddie describes. This is a marriage. While Eddie should not view himself as a victim, it is cruel and heartless for a woman to spurn her husband because he is a human being subject to circumstances and illness. An absence of physical relations usually exacerbates misunderstandings and a general lack of affection. It makes things much worse. Assuming that what Eddie has said is true, something we can never know unless Hurricane Betsy hires a private detective, he might be better able to summon the masculinity his wife desires if she extended some tenderness and sympathy to him and bolstered his confidence in his time of misfortune. Men are often strong and masculine because they are loved. In any event, given that she is not extending this love to him, Eddie should channel his energies elsewhere. He should not expect her to respond for now and should strengthen himself through discipline and a confidence in God’s love for him during his misfortunes.

As an aside, I also have the sense that this is not an interracial union.

Rita Jane writes:

Eddie’s wife (and probably Eddie; it’s wildly difficult for foreigners to become Malaysian and work there long term) is almost certainly Chinese, an ethnic minority that comprises about 30 percent of the country. They have their own languages and culture and serve an economic role similar to Jews in Europe. (Concentrated in educated and skilled fields far above their share of the general population.)

They are split among Catholics, various forms of Protestants, and Buddhists, generally with older people like Eddie and his wife being Catholic and younger Christians skewing Protestant. Malaysia is a harsh place to live for the Chinese; they are discriminated against; pay almost all the country’s income tax; find many, many jobs closed to them (including easier ones that might be a good fit for a disabled man), and are ineligible for the Islamic charities that function as the welfare state for the ethnic Malay majority. His best bet for welfare is to either fall on the mercy of his area’s Chinese association (my Chinese Malaysian in-laws contribute to such a kitty) or enlist his family to pressure her family into getting her to step up to the plate as a wife and marriage partner. If this was happening in my husband’s family, other relatives would step in to pressure the wife. Heck, my in-laws disown people who get divorced; being a bad spouse would be unacceptable.

By the way, this financial arrangement is common. The husband supports the family, and whatever the wife earns is her own money. My mother-in-law is a housewife and has been for nearly 30 years, but if she were to earn money, it would be hers alone and not go into the household purse. Chinese women also usually manage all the family income. Eddie, has your wife been saving for retirement? Are you eligible for the Malaysian pension? Did your employer pay into it? It should have close to 15 percent of your salary put in, every single year. You’re close to the compulsory retirement age and should be eligible to draw.

Laura writes:

Your suggestion that he enlist the help of others who might be able to intervene diplomatically is a good idea.

Anti-Globalist Expatriate writes:

Pace SteveI am not ‘attacking’ Asians generally, or Asian women, specifically. I am simply laying out the facts of most interracial marriages between Western expatriates and Asian women. It is important that Westerners understand that Asian culture is quite different from Western culture, and that in the overwhelming majority of interracial marriages between Western expatriate men and Asian women, the Western men are not considered fully human by the woman’s family, much less attaining the generally-accepted Western status of brother-in-law, son-in-law, and so forth.

I asked if Eddie were a Western expatriate married to a Malaysian woman; to date, it appears that Eddie hasn’t supplied this information. I then went on to describe the general tone of marriages between Western expatriate men and Asian women.

Rita Jane’s description of the situation of ethnic Chinese in Malaysia is entirely correct. It is also important to note that the economic (and often political) elites of most Asian nations, with the exception of Japan and the RoK, are of Chinese ethnicity.

The situation in Malaysia is quite complex; in a nutshell, the Malays exert political control and actively promote ethnic Malays via a form of ‘affirmative action’ (for the Malay majority, mind), whilst essentially exploiting the Chinese economic elites, as Rita Jane indicates.

We really need to know more of Eddie’s situation in order to offer more targeted advice.

Eddie writes:

I would like to extend my appreciation for the many opinions regarding my post to you. I initially wrote to you about my problems without disclosing much details and here I would like to give more input to have a fair opinion.

I am a Malaysian, not an expatriate, and a Catholic. I have two grown up adult children, a daughter lecturing at a prestigious university, and a son which has just completed his degree and going out to the workforce soon. In short I have an ideal family. I was an ex-rally driver representing my country in the FIA world rally series and I had a very bad crash in the year 1998 in the FIA Hong Kong – Beijing rally. This horrific crash injured my spine and also my hips and I had multiple surgeries that cause my disability now and I walked with a cane. I mentioned earlier I am fit due to the fact that I do not want bad health to further aggravate my already many problems. I don’t hang around the house doing nothing but instead I got a job with the top Malaysian English daily as a writer on motoring where I test new cars to be reviewed. I can only drive automatic cars. I also mentioned earlier even in my worst situation where finance is concern I never asked money from my wife as I do not want to further burden her as she is taking care of the household needs and expenses at the moment.

I would like to bring forward our earlier days where I was financial very strong having a very good job with a conglomerate and also a professional rally driver. With my earnings, I bought a double storey house and the mistake made here was we did not have a joint account, a budget for expenses to be shared equally as at that time my wife income is not that much and I foot the whole household bills, family holidays and the many comfort for my family. I have to admit here that she paid for my daughter double degree in university four years ago and I paid for my son education. Some may question me where is my savings. As from 1998, I used my savings for the house expenses, my son education and also my own commitments and it has since depleted with no solid income for the past many years.

Since the crash my whole world tumble down and as mentioned earlier Asian society is unforgiving with disable people, which led to my predicament. For the past years I have being surviving doing work from home if my legs fail me or in pain and I have to rest so as not to aggravate the injury.I am always on the lookout for opportunities.

As for my marital problem at time of writing I am patience with her and continue to show my love and care to her. As a Christian, I refrain from committing adultery as I have no affairs even during my heydays of popularity.

I agree with some opinion posted mentioning menopause as a problem and I have to accept that fact even though I am sexually active.

Once again I would like to thank all parties for your invaluable input and it is much appreciated.

Laura writes:

Thank you for elaborating.

You have a small family, similar in many ways to the Western model, which calls for two children and expensive educations for boys and girls. The practice of keeping the earnings of spouses separate is, however, not standard in the West.

Eddie confirmed one of Anti-Globalist’s point: Asian society is hard on the disabled.

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