A couple years ago, I mistakenly thought my marriage had completely recovered from the damage my years of gate-keeping and refusal had done. After all, we were having sex frequently, I was initiating as much as my husband was, and I had learned to let go of a lot of the hurts in which my gate-keeping and refusing had grown.
Mostly, I measure growth by the changes I see in myself. After all, I’m the one I’ve been working on. I know I have come a long way, both in my marriage and in my relationship with God.
The journey now is easier. It isn’t nearly as hard as it used to be, and success in some areas builds confidence in others. However, I also see reminders of the journey I still have ahead of me.
Sometimes, I see absolutely no signs of new growth at all. And then, within a short span of time, I encounter both a reminder of an area that is not yet healed and a milestone that shows how far we’ve come.
Healing Is Needed . . .
Several weeks ago, I wrote about realizing that Big Guy is still learning to trust me. It was a reminder of how much damage my sexual refusal had done to him, even as it showed me what I need to pray about for him. I was a little disheartened, but God was there to show me what I needed to do with this reminder.
Sometimes I wonder what permanent damage my refusal caused my husband and our marriage. I am sad about the years of sexual freedom with each other that I wasted, and I think of the depths of emotional intimacy we could have now if I had handled things differently.
I figured that some windows of opportunity have been permanently closed. My husband and I are no longer in youthful bodies, after all, and we both spent a lot of years feeling alone in our marriage rather than unified.
Even with some sexual opportunities lost, perhaps, my husband has said that he is sexually content now, I’ve figured that he was as sexually healed as he’s ever going to be. I’ve been grateful for that, even as I’ve had moments of grief for the opportunities we will not have.
. . . and Some Healing Is Complete
A few days after showing me that my husband’s trust in me is still in the process of rebuilding, God blessed me with a milestone that hadn’t even occurred to me.
Throughout most of our marriage, my husband knew better than to wake me up to ask for anything sexual. First, I don’t wake easily and prefer the hour-long snooze alarm process for waking up. Second, sleep is precious to me. Any time I perceived my husband’s disregard for what I was doing, it would set me off. Not only would he not have gotten any sex then, I would have worn that hurt around my neck like a big “don’t you dare touch me” sign for days.
Twice in the past year, I have woken him up for sex—something neither of us thought I would ever do—and he has been generous and accommodating. The fact that I asked was a major sign of my own healing.
I have told him that he can wake me up if he wants. He told me he didn’t feel comfortable doing that. I didn’t bother to wonder why he didn’t feel comfortable, and it didn’t occur to me that it was a sign of a place that had not yet healed.
To my surprise, just a few days after I wrote about my husband not completely trusting me, I was shown very clearly that his sexual trust in me truly is healed.
For the first time in more than twenty years, my husband woke me up for sex. He shook my shoulder a bit and said, “Hey, do you think you could . . . ?” And I did.
He had absolutely no question that I might respond with anger or hurt as I had in the past. He had a need, and he came to me to fulfill it without jumping through the mental hoops of figuring out what the asking would cost him or wondering whether it was a good idea.
He felt completely safe. He sexually trusted me.
The knowledge that he felt safe in waking me up for sex overwhelmed me, especially since I was still feeling a bit raw from what I had written just a few days earlier.
God showed me both a reminder and milestone within a few days of each other.
Reminders and Milestones
The journey to a sexually healed marriage can take time for both husband and wife. Many of us are discouraged when we work to change ourselves and all we see is signs of how far we have yet to go.
There are times when it seems that we are just treading water rather than getting anywhere—especially when we just get started. We don’t even know if our efforts are the right ones; we just know that these efforts require all our attention at times. We aren’t even sure what progress would actually look like or how we will know if we’re on the right path.
God will show us the milestones. He will show us signs of healing—in ourselves, in our husbands, and in our interactions in marriage. We just need to pay attention.
Take heart in all the milestones:
- when your husband finds the courage to ask for something new,
- when you step outside your comfort zone for the first time,
- when he makes a sexual advance at a time of day that you used to set as off-limits,
- when he touches your arm and you don’t tense up,
- when you take a deep breath and then say “yes,”
- when you wear a nightgown and no underwear to bed for the first time in a decade,
- when you find yourself smiling because he watches you undress rather than glaring and covering yourself up,
- and when he wakes you up for sex.
Continue your efforts to grow as God shows you your path—but pay attention to the milestones. Be encouraged, and know that healing is happening.
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