I’m sitting here with cup #3 of my Saturday morning coffee. I’ve hung a couple loads of laundry on the line and am thinking about getting my hair cut today. I have a sinus headache on the back burner, but I’m feeling much more rested than I was yesterday.

Yesterday’s medical appointments were generally good. I was relieved to hear my husband express his own concerns about his irritability to the doctor. He’s noticed himself being short with people and having no tolerance for other people’s mistakes. He could see that his behavior is affecting relationships. Until I heard his own concerns, I hadn’t realized how much it mattered to me that he recognized that my observations and concerns were valid.

We came home for a bit and then headed to the hospital for his CT scan. Sitting in the waiting room was very settling for me. After using my phone to write a blog post, I pulled out my knitting and just immersed myself in the repetitive task of making a baby blanket for one of my student workers. After a while, a man came in with his daughter. She was getting an MRI and handed her father her underwire bra since she’d forgotten the no-metal rule of having MRI’s. He didn’t even blink; he just put the bra gently on the chair next to him and read his newspaper. It was nice to realize that I was smiling.

After my husband’s CT scan, we went out for dinner. We haven’t had a date in several weeks. Our kids’ schedule has gotten more hectic as the summer wraps up, and my family campout took me away for several days. The weekend before that, my husband’s family came to visit, so we’ve been busy, my husband’s been irritable and grumpy, we haven’t had much time for good sex, and I’ve been stressed. As we sat across from each other, I could feel some of my stress seep away. I hadn’t realized how much my husband has become an anchor in my life. Time with him builds me up and gives me something to draw on.

During our bad years, our very rare dates would be filled with tension. We would both know that he would ask for sex. He would be bracing for the probable rejection, and I would be trying to talk myself into it while working on an excuse that could sound like a good reason for “no.” Now, my husband has become my sanctuary. I enjoy being with him in a way I haven’t since before we married. He feels like home to me.

After we got back to the house, my husband realized that the barium CT prep stuff was giving him a rumbly belly, so we decided that sex might not be a good ending to our date. I was so refreshed in my time with my husband that I didn’t even mind. We went to bed early for naked movie watching and both fell asleep. In the middle of the night, he gently woke me up and engaged me in a very satisfying and healing sexual encounter. He showed me that he had heard my frustrations from earlier in the week. My heart melted over that. I woke up this morning to find myself wrapped in his arms. I love the contrast of his hairy arms and my softer skin. It has always been one of the things that makes me feel feminine and loved. It was a perfect way to begin my day.

For many years, I resisted my husband in so many ways. My walls against him were thick. I was stubborn. He kept trying to get in, and I just added more stones and bricks to the wall. Now that the walls are down, I’ve fully let my husband into my heart. Everything feels different now. My time with him is healing rather than tense. He is a sanctuary rather than a perceived source of stress. Our sexual encounters are no longer power battles; most of the time, they are filled with mutual pleasure and giving. I’ve had more orgasms (and better ones) in the past twelve hours than I used to have in a month. The emotional intimacy that I craved for so long had been waiting on the other side of my walls, and now it is such a part of our interactions that our family and friends have noticed how happy we are in our marriage. The walls I’d built to keep my husband out had been a barrier that kept me from seeking God. With the walls down, I feel more a child of God than I ever had in my life.

Every single thing in my life is better now. Our marriage isn’t perfect; after all, it is populated by two flawed human beings. But we are striving, individually and as a unit, to be better and do better. And as our marriage continues to grow, it becomes something I can draw on to cope with other things in my life.

When I look at how our marriage was three years ago, I see something that barely looks like a marriage. Had we continued as we were then, I don’t know that we would still be married now. If we had been, I suspect we would be living very separate lives. We probably would’ve stopped arguing altogether and would be in a constant state of apathy. That first step of making one small change has made an amazing difference in our lives. The first step was the hardest, but it led to a second step and a third and then a journey that continues to carry us forward.

I can’t help but wonder how many couples are living in marriages of apathy and discontent now. Are they like I was, disbelieving that anything could be different and incapable of seeing that their marriages could grow into a source of joy? All it takes is one person to make a decision to change.

Change can be slow, and there might be times of growth and regression. I think of all the women I know who have developed patterns of withholding and restricting sex. Whether those patterns developed as a result of baggage brought into the marriage, low libido, or the realities and details of life, these women are missing out on an opportunity for an incredible joy—something I rejected for years. Just one change can be the first step toward a happier marriage.

So I sit here (with coffee #4 by now), filled with wonder at how despite my recent stress and all the transition in my life, I am filled with a joy I’ve never felt before. I wonder at God’s work in my life and in my marriage. I thank Him for my husband and for the marriage we continue to build. God has blessed me beyond measure.

What a world of difference that first step made.

8 Thoughts on “A World of Difference

  1. trixie1466 on August 10, 2013 at 12:34 pm said:

    This is just awesome. Great testimony. Our God is so amazing!!

  2. I love this. It gives me hope that with God’s guidance, my husband and I can really enjoy each other with out restrictions and expectations. Thank you for sharing your testimony.

  3. It is hard for me to think of my messy and stubborn story as a testimony, but I guess it is. God is indeed amazing; marriages truly can change.

  4. Bobo223 on August 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm said:

    I struggle with walls that I put against my husband more often than I’d like to admit. And the problem is, I know we have the possibility to have an amazing and happy marriage, but my walls make it difficult to do so. What was the first step you and your husband took that resulted in your happier marriage?

    • You’ve already taken the first step–you see the walls. It took me months after starting to make some changes to be able to see that I had walls.

      The first step I took was that when we had sex, I was fully present–no more just lying there. Shortly after that, I began to work on saying “yes” rather than “no.” It wasn’t always easy. There were times I had to work hard to take these steps, and I wasn’t always successful.

      I’m going to suggest you read the following posts, from the early days of this blog–not to learn about what worked for me so much but to see some strategies that you might be able to use in figuring out how to make those first changes.

      First Comes Trust?
      Learning to Walk
      Just One Step
      Simple, Not Easy
      One Night at a Time
      Today, pray.
      Today, do it.
      Leap of Faith (This post isn’t from early on, but it addresses what is at the root of many of our walls in the first place.)

      None of these early steps involved my husband making any changes–just me. This all started for me when my husband was in a depressive slump and we had gotten to a point of frequent apathy, but I realize now that what had changed from his end was pressuring me about sex. Basically, it’s like he stepped back and stayed out of my way so I could work on me rather than fighting against him when it came to sex.

      At the time, I didn’t think of myself as trying to tear down a wall or change a marriage. I just wanted to change my husband in one specific way for my own selfish purposes; I knew that sex had the best chance of success.

      It doesn’t really matter what your first step is. Just doing one small thing differently is enough to begin.

      Blessings on you and your marriage.

  5. I find it so interesting that your emotions come through in your writing. You have a gift. I am feeling your serenity in this post. Maybe it’s just me, but I have never been accused of being over- sensitive.

    You talk about orgasms and emotional intimacy in the same thought, “The emotional intimacy that I craved for so long had been waiting on the other side of my walls.” It’s nice to see you link the two. I have often thought that men achieve emotional intimacy through sex, but that emotional intimacy was a pre-requisite for women to enjoy sex. It seems to me that for women, orgasm and emotional intimacy are related but are at different ends of the same scale, two distinct emotions. For men, they are very closely related, right next to each other on the same scale, virtually one and the same emotion.

    Your perception of emotional intimacy has changed, right? Did you ever envision that you would find emotional intimacy through sex and orgasm?

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