I’ve often wondered what led to my years of sexual refusal and gate-keeping. I’ve known that it had to do with lack of trust and emotional disconnection, but these were things that I’ve thought of as developing over time. Still, I sometimes puzzle over what provided the foundation for these things.
For several days now, reader comments and emails have had me thinking about the foundation upon which marriages are built. Things like premarital sex, domestic violence and assault, choosing a man who seems like our fathers (or completely opposite from them) can mean that women face marriages built on something more sand than rock.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” ~ Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
When I think of our foundation, what fills my mind is our premarital sexual activity. We had sex for most of our relationship, and we were together four years before we married. At times, I would suggest that we stop having sex so we could work on developing other aspects of our relationship. These were half-hearted suggestions. I’d been sexual with others before my husband, and I was not walking or talking with God much then.
This relationship felt more real than any I’d had before; it made no logical sense to deprive this man of what I’d given to others with such little thought. Nonetheless, my heart sensed that what we were doing was wrong and I knew that we needed to be working on other ways of connecting. So I asked, half-heartedly, not pushing but hoping that he would find a way to do the right thing.
I remember my husband’s responses to these requests in only vague ways now—agreeing that it would be a good idea, not wanting to stop, suggesting that we marry sooner, trying to go a few days and always being overwhelmed with passion. It was passion for me, so I could at least understand, right? But every time we’d talk about stopping, we’d end up right back in bed; eventually I stopped asking.
Every time we failed, my heart felt heavy in disappointment—in myself but in my future husband as well. I’m such a people pleaser that it never occurred to me to share my disappointment with him.
Over the past few days, I’ve been wondering what I learned to expect from this man before we were even married. Last night, I was reading a passage in a book that talked about how we reap what we sow and about the importance of paying attention to what we learn from our mistakes—and suddenly, I could see a connection between our premarital sex and my sexual refusal.
I learned four things about my husband then:
- I couldn’t trust him to follow through or take care of me.
- He had no self-control.
- He valued sex more than he values my whole self.
- He didn’t lead in Godly ways.
What I learned about my husband before we married (without even realizing that I was learning it) affected our marriage for years. These lessons were central to my refusal. Even now, after working so hard on our marriage and our sexual relationship, these are still the things that I have to work hardest to silence in my head. They were the foundation of how I saw my husband. They are things I need to relearn and rebuild.
I certainly own a fair share of our premarital shenanigans. I am at fault for my sexual refusal and gate-keeping; my sin was not his fault at all. But I look at the shaky foundation that under-girded our marriage, and I’m able to understand a little better why it was so easy for my sin to take root.
Is it any wonder our intimate life had such a hard time weathering the storms of life?
Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net