The Other Gate-keeping

Usually, when we talk about gate-keeping here, we mean a woman who is limiting sex. She guards the gate to what her husband wants, and he only gets in on the rare occasions she allows it. In really bad cases he hasn’t gotten past the gate in months or years. 

But gate-keeping is done in other areas of marriage, and men do it too!

The Other Gatekeeping

Plenty of women would say their husband is the gate-keeper of conversation in their marriage. Others would say he’s controlling access to date-nights, non-sexual touch, finances, and more.

Are you limiting something your wife would like more of? Just as I tell women about sex, the fact that she has stopped asking doesn’t mean the lack is no longer a problem; it just means she has figured out you don’t care enough to give her what she needs.

If you’re doing any gate-keeping, please consider becoming generous in that area. If you guard the gate then you have the power to show her sacrificial love.

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9 Comments on “The Other Gate-keeping

  1. I struggle with financial gatekeeping. From my perspective, I am trying to keep us from going into more debt (ideally trying to reduce and eliminate), but I think sometimes my wife feels like I’m being a financial gatekeeper. And sometimes I wonder if I am. I am influenced by her past admissions that she struggles with materialism, so I tend to question a lot of purchases that I should probably just let go. I also tend to ask her to specify a dollar amount when she says things like “it’s not going to be a lot”. Because we have different definitions of what constitutes “a lot” of money. I know me asking “how much do you think?” annoys her, but I’ve been surprised too many times expecting a receipt for a certain amount and it ends up being twice that or more. Then there’s her justification of the cost and then we get into differing definitions of “need”. Finances, for me, is the single most difficult dynamic in marriage.

    • @closertotheheart – That’s tough. It can become a case of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.
      I’d strongly recommend the two of you a Finacial Peace University course together. It will help you develop a common language for money.

  2. Gate-keeping is considered negative behavior.
    Boundaries are typically considered healthy.
    What makes them different from one another?

    • @Jolie – Great question!
      I would say gatekeeping is limiting something for selfish reasons, while boundaries are about protecting one’s self from selfishness. Gatekeeping is withholding what should be given, while boundaries is about not giving what should not be given.

      • So, can one legitimately set a boundary in marriage to protect themself from their partner’s sexual selfishness and general lack of desire to work towards a real relationship? When it’s “just sex”, nothing before and little if anything afterwards in spite of that being asked for; no tender words, no conversation, no eye contact, just pretty much going for the bits and the big finale. I don’t want to say no and try very hard not to but, sometimes my body and soul just shut down and revolt before I can wrap my mind around ‘yes.’

        • Maybe it’s not selfishness but it’s definitely very undeveloped relational and sexual skills, fear, hurt, etc.and a huge unwillingness to be vulnerable, talk, and/or explore together and it’s emotionally destroying me and the relationship. After decades of this getting worse, not better, my emotional, mental, and physical well-being has taken a toll. I don’t want to set a boundary (sex is either feast or famine because of the relational junk) but 90% of my attempts at discussing these things end in his bringing up other things and generally getting irate and frustrated. Suggestions?

        • @Roomtogrow – The short answer to the question is yes. The problem is how to do that and still meet his legitimate needs even if he is totally wrong about them.
          You could tell him he will get some minimum sex act from you 10 times a month, and it will be all for him because he has made it clear he doesn’t care about you. Tell him you won’t pretend to want or enjoy it. Also, tell him doing that is going to eat away at your soul and you don’t know how long you can do it,
          If that doesn’t get him to talk or change, it tells you something – and you will need to make some hard decisions.

  3. “Gatekeeping is withholding what should be given, while boundaries is about not giving what should not be given.” I like this explanation.

    We might describe gate keeping as not letting someone take something that should not be taken and boundaries as not giving what should not be given. Gate keeping is about allowing something to happen to us (we are the objects) and boundaries are about active participation (we are the subjects).

    Interesting thoughts.

  4. The two can be confused. My wife and I both entered marriage with a view of sex, outside of making babies, as a physical (“fleshly”) activity, and therefore rather unspiritual. Because of this misguided understanding (and nobody taught anything to the contrary), she thought she was setting reasonable limits. I thought that my high drive and desire were unspiritual, and blamed her, blamed myself, and blamed God for making me this way. What she regarded as boundaries I regarded as gatekeeping. I was angry at her for denying me sex, and angry at myself for wanting it so badly. When a few times a year for over 20 years went to zero for four years, it almost all fell apart.

    Before anything could be done to restore our marriage, we had to unlearn this lie of Satan. God designed us to enjoy sex in marriage and be bonded by it. But Paul is right about other gatekeeping. I was withdrawing intimacy through time and conversation. I’m not sure it was a counscious “get even with her” attitude. But I had to learn how to be intimate with my wife in other ways and open myself to her emotionally as she opened herself to me physically.

    What this boils down to is what Ephesians 5 commands us to do, and not just in marriage relationships. We are to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

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