Some of you are hurting in your marriages. Perhaps, like the woman I was for so long, much of your hurt stems from things that you brought into your marriage—trauma, sexual sin, inability to trust, or difficult family relationships. (See this post.) When you begin your marriage on top of a shaky foundation, you may struggle with healthy intimacy of any kind.
My hurt grew because I still had so many raw spots. My husband’s responses to the words and actions that grew out of my rawness were sometimes a constant ripping off of the emotional scabs. I brought hurt into our marriage, and more hurt was heaped on top of it.
Perhaps the hurt in your marriage is the result of your husband’s sin. Maybe it is on-going sin: he berates you, overuses alcohol or drugs, overspends your family’s money, or uses pornography. Or perhaps it is long-ago sin that caused your hurt, such as his premarital sexual activity, a physical or emotional affair, or other sin. Maybe he hasn’t sought your forgiveness, or maybe the sin was so big that you aren’t quite sure it’s over or don’t know how to heal the hurt.
Whatever the cause, if you are hurting in your marriage, the thought of true and full intimacy can be terrifying.
The idea of intimacy used to terrify me—until I realized that I was actually experiencing it. Full intimacy with my husband gives me a joy I thought I didn’t deserve. I wasn’t even sure that kind of joy was possible.
True intimacy is such a beautiful and joyful experience that I want that for you.
What worked in my marriage was to begin by addressing sexual intimacy for the selfish reason of making my life more pleasant by making my husband less depressed.
But that might not work in your marriage.
If you’re in a hurting marriage, begin where you are. Work on one thing you see in front of you.
Work to heal what hurts, whether those wounds are emotional, spiritual, or physical. Heal—not just because it is good for your marriage (and it is good for your marriage) but because it is what your own heart needs.
If you are hurting as a result of your husband’s sin, encourage and support him in addressing that sin while you work to heal yourself. Read Boundaries (affiliate link).
With deep hurt or unrepentant sin, it is a good idea to get yourself some support. Talk with your pastor. See a professional counselor. (The American Association of Christian Counselors is a good place to start looking for one.) Edited to add: If you are being abused by your husband, get safe and get support. That is more important than working on intimacy.
Then, as you begin your path toward healing, tend to your marriage. Work—preferably with your husband—on different kinds of intimacy. Work on emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and sexual intimacy.
Healing happens in layers, and different areas of healing may need attention all at once.
If you lack true intimacy in your marriage, you are likely need to work on emotional, spiritual, and sexual intimacy all at the same time. But you have to take a first step from wherever you are.
My experience was to work on my own sexual issues first. I suspect that if that were all I had done to address the problem, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
Once I had learned to be intentional and generous in my sexual behavior was I able to see some dark places in my heart. I have been working on those places, one by one by one.
As that resulted in some change in my marriage, I dug deeper into my own sexual and spiritual healing. My sexual past had gotten all tangled up in my relationship with God.
I can see now that much of my hurt grew from my own sin and from my spiritual immaturity–but when I started, I wouldn’t have had any idea to work on these things.
As that resulted in more change in my marriage, I continued to dig deeper into my own healing—and that enabled me to work more intentionally on healing our marriage. I am a better woman and a better wife. My changes created change in my husband’s life that has encouraged his own spiritual and relational growth, so he is a better husband.
True intimacy is so much bigger than sex. It is emotional, spiritual, and, yes, sexual. One flesh is both literal and figurative.
True intimacy is a sum that is greater than its parts.
There have been times when all these kinds of intimacies come together in a way that surpasses any experience I’ve ever had. It isn’t like that all the time, but when it happens, it is awe-inspiring.
It happens most when Big Guy and I are both giving and generous to the other, thinking of the other person’s pleasure more than our own and shutting out everything except the two of us.
I feel so close to my husband and so deeply cherished by him in those moments that I want to crawl inside him and occupy the very same space as he does. Those moments are truly sublime.
And that is what I want for you all.
I want you to know what it is to be one flesh with your husband. Big Guy and I are two flawed children of God. We have hurt each other a lot, and sometimes we still do.
But those moments of ultimate intimacy are when I feel closest not only to him, but also to God.
If you are hurting in your marriage, begin where ever you are—and reach out toward intimacy.
Image courtesy of tungphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net