I continue to learn how much growth I still have ahead of me.

Last week, I wrote the sage advice to “Be married to the husband you have, not to the husband you wish you had.” It really is good advice, isn’t it? The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, after all. It is easy to focus on what we don’t have rather than on what we do. I really should take my own advice to heart.

A few days after I wrote that post, Lori at The Generous Wife wrote about the “my house must be clean” tape running through her head. She said her kitchen floor had needed mopping for almost a week. I looked at my kitchen floor. It was absolutely disgusting. There was sticky stuff near the stove, sink, and refrigerator, and some people in my family aim for the garbage can about as well as they aim for the toilet. Sigh. I better mop the kitchen floor.

Then, at the beginning of this week, Paul (Lori’s husband) wrote an XY Code post about having mopped the floor. Sigh. I wonder if my husband knows where the mop is. Wait. Do I even know where the mop is? Did I mop yet this month? Why do I hate housework so much? Why can’t I even pick one place in the house to keep clean and uncluttered? Why is it that when I clear a surface, my family decides to cover it with their stuff? Why can’t I even keep the kitchen counter cleared off? I love to cook and bake, but I can’t stand to be in my own kitchen. Oh, dear, how am I going to bake pies and cook Christmas dinner in that kitchen?

The Grinch

On the morning of Christmas Eve, those were the thoughts going through my head as I stared at my own kitchen floor. We had several paper bags full of recyclables that needed to be carried out to the garage. I asked my husband, sitting in his favorite chair with his laptop in front of him, if he would please carry them out for me so I could mop the floor. He said he would. I worked hard on my counters and cleared a space for assembling pies. I cleaned off the stove. I took a soapy rag to the yuckiest spots on the floor so I could stand to be in the kitchen. My husband was still in his chair, talking with one of the kids. I moved the recycling bags out of the kitchen myself. I swept the floor. I moved the chairs out of the way. My husband was still in his chair. I mopped the floor. I was mad. How can he not see that I need his help? Why couldn’t he be honest with me that he wasn’t going to do what I asked? I explained that I needed it done so I could mop, and since I’m so clearly mopping now, why didn’t he at least apologize for not having done what I’d asked him to do? Why can’t I have a husband who mops the floor? Why am I in this all alone?

The rest of the day proceeded somewhat similarly. I ended up doing the vacuuming in the living room and unclogging the vacuum as well—twice. (Side note: The dog has been gone for six months, yet his fur still manages to clog the vacuum hose. And I know I’ve vacuumed since then. I fear his fur will be with us forever.) My husband made soup for Christmas Eve dinner, spilling on my newly mopped kitchen floor. I wiped it up. If he ever mopped the floor, he would know how important it is to clean up his spills. I baked the pies. I made the cream cheese mint candies.
I browned the sausage and assembled the breakfast casseroles for Christmas morning. By the time I got myself dressed for Christmas Eve service, I was sore and tired and still mad.

Christmas morning was pleasant enough, although I was somewhat growly. I’d woken up at 4 am with a headache. All morning I had a constant running list of things I needed to do to prepare Christmas dinner. I spent several hours of the afternoon cooking. I assembled vegetable casserole dishes. I went back and forth working on the different layers of a jello and cream cheese concoction. My husband sat in his chair, wearing his Grinch lounge pants, and watched movies with our daughter. I peeled ten pounds of potatoes. About three pounds in, I realized I was crying angry tears. God, why won’t he help me? Why is he sitting in there enjoying himself while I’m out here peeling ten stupid pounds of stupid potatoes? God asked me if I’d asked for help. No. I did that yesterday, and that didn’t do any good. God reminded me that not only is each day a new day, the recycling bags had been carried out to the garage at some point, with no fanfare at all. The work I’d wanted done had been done.

Six pounds in, I decided in my tears to ask God for help in getting through the stupid potatoes and in finding a lesson or a blessing in the fact that I was doing all the cooking by myself. God asked me what I really wanted. I want to not have to do all of this by myself. God told me again to ask for help. I can’t, because . . . God interrupted me, asking me again what I really wanted. I want to be important enough that he sees what I am doing. I want him to care about the fact that I am doing this. I want him to know that my knees hurt. I want him to come ask me what he can take off my plate for me because I want to know that he loves me and values me in a way that matters to me. I felt God looking straight at me. Oh, I see. I want to know that he loves me. That’s what this is about. It isn’t about anything getting done; it’s about me feeling loved. Oh.


It was Christmas Day, and instead of thinking about Jesus and how much God loves me, I’d been throwing an internal temper tantrum at my kitchen sink. I didn’t really want my husband to mop the floor. It didn’t even matter that he knew the floor needed mopping. What I wanted was for him to see me and all the things that mattered to me. I wanted him to desire who I was and what I had to offer. I’d been putting more worth in being loved by my husband than in being loved by Jesus. I finished peeling the potatoes and made our family’s Christmas dinner.

From the Innermost Self

Having been up early that morning, I went to bed early. My husband spent two hours with our son playing video games. As I lay in bed waiting for the Mucinex and ibuprofen to do their work, I downloaded some prayer and Bible apps to the new tablet my husband had given me for Christmas. I created a prayer list for struggling marriages. I created another prayer list for my family. How should I pray for my husband? I asked God. I’m not angry any more, but I need to pray for him to have a more loving and gracious wife; he certainly didn’t have one today. God pointed out that my husband wanted the same thing I did—to be loved and valued in a way that matters to him.

Aha. So for all those years, when he said he wanted me to want him, that’s what was going on? He didn’t just want sex; he wanted to know that I loved and valued him in a way that mattered to him—exactly like I didn’t just want a clean floor but wanted to know that my husband loved me enough to care about what matters to me.

I thought about how all the cooking I’d done had been done out of love, even though I’d let that love be clouded by my own grousing. Preparing food for my family matters deeply to me as a woman. I made all our food from scratch (except for pie crusts, since I am a disaster when a rolling pin is in my hands). I wondered if this was a tape running through my own head, that everything needed to be done from scratch—but I realized it wasn’t. I did this because every bit of heating and mixing and recipe hunting and stirring was an act of giving in a way that mattered to me. It was a giving of all I could give from my innermost self, doing the best I could do with what I had to offer. When my family eats what I’ve prepared and enjoys it enough that they come back for seconds, I feel loved and purposeful. What is that you ask now, God? How does Big Guy give from his innermost self? What does he believe is the best he has to offer me? Sex? I’m right? That’s what makes him feel loved and purposeful?

When my husband gives to me sexually, he is giving from a place inside himself that matters deeply as a man. When I refused him sexually for all those years, I was rejecting his core sense of himself as a man who had something to offer—just like I would feel if I prepared a Christmas dinner that no one ate. When I had duty sex, it was like people eating what I had prepared but eating quickly and not appreciating what I had done. When I put conditions on sex (lights off, only after the kids are asleep), it was like my family was insisting on where the food went on the table or limiting me to only one small spoonful of each item I had prepared.

My kitchen floor wasn’t the real issue, and neither was the fact that I was doing all the cooking alone. The issue was that I was trying to define what counts as “love.” I had spent the entire day being grouchy rather than wondering at the fact that God loves me so much that He sent the greatest gift of all to us when an infant was born in a stable that had to be far yuckier than my kitchen floor will ever be.

It wasn’t just the fact that Jesus died for my sins that matters; it’s the fact that God loved me enough to give this gift in the first place. After all the years of my reminding my kids that the giving of Christmas was more important than the receiving, it turns out I was guilty of doing just that. I was focusing more on the gift than on the giving. I added some prayers for my own heart on my prayer list app, and then I spent a good bit of time in prayer.

I heard my husband leave my son’s room. I thought about what he had given of himself that day and the day before. He had made soup. He’d prepared the Christmas ham. He had carried the recycling out to the garage. He had given time to each of our kids. He had been a good father. He had been a good leader for our kids, who as young adults still have much to learn from their dad. When I thought about it that way, my heart began to melt.

My husband came to bed and took me in his arms. He gave me a gift that only he can give, from a place inside himself that matters deeply to him as a man. And instead of feeling neglected or thinking about my kitchen floor or about the fact that I still had a load of dishes to put in the dishwasher this morning, I gratefully accepted the gift with which my husband blessed me.

It was much, much better than a mopped floor.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

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28 Thoughts on “A Place Deep Inside

  1. Thank you for another brilliant post. I love the analogies! How could a wife see those and not understand how important sex is in marriage.

  2. Beautiful post!
    Also, spot on. We want to be notices, we want to be appreciated, and we want to be loved. Actually, I would say we need all those things, and we are miserable and miserable to be with when we don’t feel we have them.

    May you and your kitchen floor be blessed!

  3. How beautiful that your prayer was answered as you contemplated a different perspective regarding love. Being a gracious ‘acceptor’ of loving gifts when they aren’t in our definition is another true act of love. Just as many didn’t understand the love of God sending a tiny baby to build a Kingdom. Praying bountiful love and peace upon your clan.

  4. So much of what you have written resonates with me. My husband left me 6 months ago today. I regret how I compared him to others and wanted him to change instead of accepting him.
    I’m beating myself up today especially even though I Know he also made many mistakes. I ask you to please pray for our marriage and family to be restored. I
    Standing for my marriage and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

    • And sadly after 2 years of me being a gatekeeper I had reached total freedom in that area. I think God allowed that so it couldn’t be used as the excuse for him to leave.

    • I will keep you in my prayers. Are you two working to reconcile?

      • It is on and off. We start talking more and doing things and then he does something like go MIA for 24 hours and I react and we are back to square one. He is saved but has let disappointment in man take him far from God. God has told me 4 times to keep doing as I am and he is coming home but the waiting is killing me. I’ve been through the deepest, darkest depression these past months. Please pray for his heart to soften and turn toward home

  5. I have read almost everyone of your post (starting with the oldest and reading forward). I feel like sweet water is being poured out on parched soil. The Lord has given you a gift for writing, a precious heart to encourage others, and the courage to share something that is so very needed and yet so neglected.
    I hope and pray everyday that the Lord will do whatever He needs to do to heal our marriage. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. (It’s really weird to have a famous kitchen floor.) So glad that it eventually worked out for you and that you know you are loved.

    • LOL. I did have a moment of thinking, “Whoa, what is Lori going to think when I remind everyone that she thought her kitchen floor was dirty?” I am very loved (and my kitchen floor looks more loved as well).

  7. What about when you are the wife who not only ‘mops the floor’ but is also refused sex? And then the husband not just refuses to acknowledge all you do for him and his family (HIS family mind you (mother/sister living in the same house) but also refuses to love you in the way that matters!!
    Cooking, cleaning, working a full time job, managing in most loving manner the mother-in-law and sister-in-law, being there whenever he wants physically, emotionally and financially and yet never having the husband around in the house, refusing you sex, refusing you any sign of emotional or physical intimacy AND THEN realizing that he LOVES porn!!! And you catch him masturbating right next to you in the nights, while you are lying all shriveled up not wanting even a touch of your clothes to be construed by him as a sexual advance.
    Oh the pain and hurt of rejection…
    I waited and pleaded and talked and prayed and tried looking sexier… but nothing changed. I quit the marriage. And yet, its me who feels guilty about quitting, about hurting him, about not loving till death do us apart…

    • Oh,annedesa, how my heart aches for you. You know too well how porn hurts marriages.

      More and more research shows the ways that porn interfereswith a man’s normal sexual response. evenwhen a man has good intentions and works hard, it is so hard for him to fight his porn-rewired brain.

      If you haven’t seen it yet, read this post by my sister blogger Bonny at Pearl’s OysterBed: http://www.oysterbed7.com/2013/11/waging-war.html?m=1

      Know that you are not alone.

    • Annedesa, there is nothing worse than that kind of betrayal. The pit of my stomach is upset because I relive your pain as you describe it. I am not sure when you say you quit the marriage if you mean emotionally or legally. But, if there is still a chance, I would recommend you read this http://www.posarc.com/partners/sexual-anorexia. In addition to reading anything by Dr. Doug Weiss. Also, read “Surfing for God,” by Michael Cusick and “Boundaries,” by Townsend and Cloud. Healing your heart is a process. I used to roll my eyes when people would spout that porn use isn’t about me, the wife, it’s about the husband who is broken. That doesn’t make my pain any less. But, after much research, deep reflection and MUCH PRAYER God led me to understand that statement. Everyone’s situation is a bit different, but the heart of the issue is all the same. I would highly suggest you find a Christian counselor who specializes in sex addiction to help you heal. You don’t have to be the sex addict to need their specialization. I weep with you, Annedesa, and I am praying with you.

  8. The ability you have to weave words together in a way that not only touches the reader, but makes them feel like we’re part of the story, is unsurpassed by any blogger I have ever read. Amazing, simply amazing. Another GREAT post. Thanks for all you do.

    • Wow. Thank you. It’s the result of all the over-analyzing of everything I’ve done or said throughout my life. Well, it’s the result of that and making lots of mistakes that need to be analyzed.

      • Anonymous on December 28, 2013 at 11:44 am said:

        I believe it has more to do with God’s anointing in you to fulfil the ministry He has called you to. A gift He has given you to touch the hearts of those in need of knowing they are loved…not alone in the battle.
        Blessings and Merry Christmas.

        • A Reader on December 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm said:

          I agree! The Lord has given you a gift and a ministry. It is He who is reaching out to others through you.

  9. Pingback: Turn Your Heart Toward Home | The Forgiven Wife

  10. I hope that on Judgment Day the Lord rewards you for how your simplicity and honesty has drawn me closer to Jesus. How He loves how much you care for His bride.

  11. Pingback: He Only Wants Me for Sex | The Forgiven Wife

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