Thursday, May 10, 2012

questions for those who have read Real Marriage, five kids and C-sections

2012 opened up with Real Marriage, Mark and Grace Driscoll's book about, well, marriage. The sales pitch has been that they get real and vulnerable.

Every story will necessarily be selective.  Things will be included and some things may get overlooked or go unmentioned.  That Mark Driscoll recounted in Real Marriage  how frustrated he was with the lack of sex is something all reviewers have noted.  But as yet I have not read any reviews that consider what Driscoll might call the big E on the eye chart.

The Driscolls have five children and there's not a single one of them who is adopted.  All the kids seem to be about two years apart in age.  Now here is some things I'm not sure anyone's asked about or discussed in reviews.

Pregnancy normally lasts about nine months, right?

Weaning can take a while.  Some mothers wean for at least a year, others take a couple of years. Mileage varies and not all mothers breastfeed.

I get that the Driscolls have talked about how the sex wasn't happening as often as Mark wanted it to but, at the risk of pointing out the obvious, they had to be having sex at least often enough for Grace to have birthed five children, right?  Maybe it wasn't as fun for both parties as they would have liked, I get that, but five children do not just spontaneously emerge.  There wasn't some magic kid dust left around the house that led children to spontaneously emerge from dust mites left on the floor.  Mark Driscoll used to joke from the pulpit that liberal secular Seattleites have asked him, "Don't you know where babies come from!?" and his punchline was that the babies come from a hot wife.  So given how he liked making that joke is it possible one reason not as much sex was going was because, well, Grace was carrying babies and then weaning them?

For those who were attenders of Mars Hill over ten or twelve years there's something else I've wondered, do either Mark or Grace Driscoll mention her C-section deliveries? Is it possible part of the reason Grace may not have felt frisky had something to do with a steady cycle of 9 months of pregnant, maybe a year of weaning, and this weaning time including recuperating from getting cut open to deliver her babies?  That's a lot of physical change and some trauma to give birth to five children over the course of about ten years, isn't it? Do either of the Driscolls mention the possibility, at least, that all this may have put a damper on some things?  This is the sort of issue that can come up in an otherwise healthy marriage, so I've heard, how much more could it have been a set of potentially exacerbating variables for a woman like Grace who Mark seems to have described as having a history of being sexually abused in her past and, well, frigid?

Dealing with a history of abuse would be traumatic enough without also dealing with the traumatic changes of carrying a baby to term, birthing by C-section, and nursing a baby for maybe a ten to 18 months or however long a mom might nurse a baby.  No reviews I've read of Real Marriage touch significantly on any of these issues and this goes for sympathetic as well as negative reviews.  Maybe most people don't know what many MH attendees would have known, that Mark said Grace delivered all her kids C-section.  That doesn't seem like a mundane detail even to a single guy.  If Grace spent a year weaning a child and the kids are spaced roughly two years apart then there's 9 months of carrying a baby and 12 months of nursing and that'd be 21 months of all that, which includes C-section birthing every two years.  That doesn't seem like a whole lot of down time, does it?  But my memory has limits and so perhaps none of these variables are worth considering.

Still ...  let's face it, married people don't bring five children into the world by not having sex..  It may, again, have not been as frequent as Mark wanted and it may not have been as pleasant as Grace wanted it to be when it happened, but the five children are irrefutable evidence that sex happened.   Mark Driscoll's punchline about the hot wife circa 2002-2005 was its own jovial testament that the sex was, in fact, happening just often enough to eventually bring five children into the world.  I know this may be discussing the obvious but a teacher I had in school used to say "Never underestimate the obvious."  It surprises me, looking back on a few months of reviews about the book that nobody mentions these things.  Is it because the Driscolls never mentioned Grace's C-sections or C-sections in general?  I'm curious.  Perhaps people who have read the book can enlighten me.

P.S. some people have let me know, offline, but this underscores even more fully the perplexity of how nobody online seems to have broached these subjects in discussing or reviewing the book. I would think that as proof of sex between a husband and wife goes it just can't get more obvious than five children but, to go by chapter one of Real Marriage, you'd get the impression Mark Driscoll was struggling bitterly with the lack of action in his life when Grace's birthing five children would seem like at least a potential counter-narrative.


The Blog bites better than the Bullet. said...

Totally agree. I don't feel from what I have read of the book (or Mark's sermons) that it would enhance my/our marriage in any way, but one of the things I dislike about much of what I've heard from Mark is how the woman's side of the story of sex -as you have aptly noted- gets brushed aside. A loving husband doesn't just WANT his wife; he also loves her enough to understand her "no" doesn't equate indifference or hate or even a problem, but often indicates self-respect, just as a husband's "no" might equally indicate.

Anonymous said...

The physical aspects of carrying and delivering babies can indeed cut into a woman's interest in sex, but I think a lot of it is mostly exhaustion. The tactile overload of carrying a baby inside of you, then carrying the baby outside of you, breastfeeding, holding, rocking, and bathing not just the baby but any other children in the house can be overwhelming.

I had days when I just. didnt. want. anyone. to. touch. me. "My body belongs to my and I want all you people to get away from it."

Add that pressure to the need to always be responsive. To the baby's cries. To the baby's laughs. To the other children's needs. It's pretty easy to think that the husband is a grown up, after all, and should be helping you out instead of demanding that he gets to touch you and have you respond in a way that makes him happy.

Yeah. Grace has my prayers.


Anonymous said...

Add to this...caring for the young ones while dealing with c-section and weaning and who would be hot for sex? Is this why he taught sodomy, perhaps?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Uh, I'm gonna to play the never-married/haven't dated card here and say this has rapidly got into stuff I was hoping to NOT discuss. Probably serves me right for asking stuff like this at my blog, though. :-)

Rebecca Kvenvolden said...

Excellent point. I agree that you might be on to something. As someone who has more than 5 children, 2 by c-sec. i can agree that that has been a BIG issue for us during those childbearing years, where it wasn't so much after. i dislike the way he portrayed lack of sex, when in reality, it takes a LOT out of you to have many children, nurse, not to mention major abdominal surgery in the midst of it all. One possible explanation is that their definition of normal amount of sex is much greater than i'd suspect for a young family with lots of children. Right before we left MH, one of the small group videos had Grace suggesting that if you were having sex less than 2x a week, there was "probably something wrong" My husband and I found it disturbing that the main pastor's wife was legislating our sexual frequency (essentially) which was a big factor in us leaving... (how much we wished to be micromanaged) but that was telling. I know that my husband considers me much more than just a body to use, and i hope for Grace that its the same for her.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Grace prescribing weekly frequency of sex sounds curious. I've been reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow and he suggests a more formulaic approach based on ratios--simply put, if you're fighting more often than you have sex in your marriage it's probably in trouble regardless of specific frequencies. Maybe it's like good cholesterol and bad cholesterol--the risk isn't automatically in which one is high or low in exact numbers but what is a healthy ratio between the two. It wouldn't be a shock if what Grace said was a confused shorthand for a broader principle.

Maybe Driscoll (Grace) was prescribing something with a concept in mind and not prescribing a flat rate. Of course right there I've illustrated what reflexively happens with Driscoll apologists: a Driscoll says something that isn't accurate, sensible, wise or exegetically defensible based on a given proofttext and fans will leap in to reinterpret the point in such a way that it stops being what Driscoll said and becomes, practically, an entirely new idea retroactively credited to Driscoll by a loyal fan. The Driscolls stance on stay-at-home dads during Peasant Princess in 2008 made the rounds and it became clear it had nothing to do with the Bible and everything to do with the personal prejudices and experiences of Mark and Grace Driscoll. I hear that in 2012 they've substantially softened their stance. If so, that's cool, but that should have been their stance all along. :-)

If the Driscolls have unrealistic expectations about how frequent sex should be in marriage I'm going out on a limb and suggesting that's all on Mark's unrealistic expectations about sex frequency and not Grace. It's she and not he who brought those five children into the world.