When my journey of sexual transformation was new, every step I took was hard. I felt like I was taking a risk and being vulnerable every time I said “yes”—or maybe it is more truthful to say that I felt this way every time I didn’t say “no.”
It took my husband a long time to see that things were changing. It took a year for him to believe that the changes were real. My journey meant that I was changing behavior that had become deeply ingrained in me—while my husband continued in the patterns that had developed in response to my refusal and gate-keeping.
Slowly, I dragged myself on the journey while walking next to a husband who was still trying to walk the path I was trying to escape. I longed for emotional intimacy with my husband but chose to set that aside for a while so I could truly work on myself.
I wanted to quit trying. And every time I was close to giving up, God would show me the words of a sexually refused husband. I am a woman who experiences life with her heart. Emotion and empathy are the best routes to reach me and teach me. So God would show me hearts.
On discussion forums, in blog posts, in comments on blog posts, and even in conversations I overheard, I heard the voices and pain of refused husbands. I wish I weren’t Christian so I could walk away. I am so alone. Am I really that ugly that she can’t bear to look at me? If I weren’t frozen out in the bedroom, I probably wouldn’t have the energy to be so good at golf. I must be so unlovable if my wife can’t bear to have sex with me. I pray for my sex drive to be taken away so I can stop hurting so much.
These words would tear at my heart. And I would know that while I didn’t have the emotional intimacy I craved, what my husband wanted was bigger than just sex. So I would plow through.
As our intimacy has deepened, I have become more emotionally fulfilled—although I’ve also become more emotionally vulnerable. As I’ve torn down the walls around my heart, I’ve found that I hurt more easily than I had in a long time. I know my husband loves me very much. Many of my emotional needs are met as a by-product of our increased physical intimacy—but not all of them. And most of the time, I cope with this pretty well.
But not today.
Our week has been bookended by shakiness. We began the week with an argument and old habits trying to resurface.
The rest of the week was okay—until I woke up this morning feeling grouchy in a way I haven’t felt in years. My mood put my husband on edge, so he responded with frustration and a bite to his voice. And I responded to just about everything with tears and anxiety. I felt my heart shrivel in hurt.
Several interactions into the day, I found myself on my knees in the bedroom—praying, alone with God. I sobbed. I am so alone. Am I really that unlovable that he can’t want to see my heart? Have I been that bad a wife that I have made him unable to accept who I am inside? Why am I feeling this way again after so long? Why do I have to be so emotional anyway? God, please take away my emotions so I can stop hurting.
My prayer echoed the words that had moved me three years ago.
This startled me so much that I immediately stopped crying as I realized that I was feeling more unstable in my marriage than I had felt in quite a while.
I know women who are doing their own small parts in ministering to women working toward healthier marriages, even as they continue to work on their own marriages. During the past week and a half, several of these women have encountered uncharacteristic challenges in their marriages—from unlikely assumptions to mistrust to insecurity to the resurfacing of old behaviors.
I thought about today’s post on Pearl’s OysterBed. Bonny says that marriage is under spiritual attack. She’s right.
My prayer changed. Please help me remember that my husband is with me, not against me. Give me tools, knowledge, and wisdom to resume the journey. God, thank you for the emotions that allow me to feel all that you’ve given my heart. Get Satan out of my marriage.
I walked back downstairs to find my husband cooking dinner, joking around with our daughter who is home for a visit. I still felt fragile and tentative. Even as he fiddled with the stove with one hand, he reached his arm around me and pulled me close. I laid my head on his shoulder while he cooked. I felt his heart beating in time with mine.
Tears of thanks for an answered prayer rolled down my cheeks.
Whether you are on the first step of your journey of change or on your 19,624th step, there will be times when it is hard to keep yourself moving. You may have stretches where you feel like you are the only one doing the walking. You may wonder how you can take one more step.
In her post, Bonny encourages her readers to “put out a call to your prayer warriors.”
Please pray for the women who have posted requests in the comments on this post. Let us know how we can pray for you.