When my relationship with Big Guy is good, sex can be easy. If we’ve connected in ways that are meaningful to me, if he’s given me a glimpse into his heart, or if we’ve just shared a positive experience, sex can flow naturally from that and I’m all on board.
Sometimes, though, our relationship has hiccups. Sex isn’t so easy then.
When I’m hurting emotionally as a result of my husband’s words or actions, I want to curl up behind a big old wall with Big Guy on the other side of it.
I’m not talking about hurt from on-going unrepentant sin against me, nor am I talking about long-term hurts. I’m referring to things that happen as part of regular life with two generally good-willed people.
Sometimes it might be something that had nothing to do with sex: words that Big Guy spoke thoughtlessly, a lack of meaningful conversation, or not thanking me for having done something he asked. He will initiate sex some time later, and I find myself feeling befuddled that he thinks sex is a good idea.
I am emotionally affected by things that happen during sex, too. Making a move before my mind and body are ready for it, touching me in a way I don’t like, or asking me for something I don’t care for out of the blue can completely shut down my launch sequence.
My sexuality is so interconnected with my emotions that even a small emotional blip can turn off the sexual switch for me.
Because I try to be a grown-up, I am usually able to recognize that my emotions are getting in the way. Most of the time I am even able to combat the negative thoughts that run through my head: the only reason he cares about me is sex, he never listens to me, if he really thinks I can be all hot and bothered after what he just said he doesn’t know me as well as he claims to.
I can replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts that re-align me with God’s truth. (See Silence the Lies.) I remind myself that Big Guy cares about me far beyond sex, that he does listen to me, and that he sometimes forgets that I am not like him in being able to be interested in sex when I’m emotionally hurting. I choose to replay some of the times he has been especially giving and selfless to me in ways that demonstrate his love for me.
Pulling myself back together restores the emotional balance and makes me not feel so hurt—but it does not restore my sexual desire. I may be past the hurt (mostly), but that doesn’t mean I’m feeling emotionally connected in a way that rekindles desires.
That damage has already been done. Or has it?
I have learned some strategies that can help me restore what my emotional hurt has pushed aside.
Pray for desire to return. This should be so obvious, but it took me a long time to figure out. If I lose my mojo because my heart stings, I ask God to restore it for me: Please help me feel desire for my husband. Please help my heart feel whole.
Remember who the enemy is. My husband is not my enemy. (See The Enemy of Marriage, along with Part 2 and Part 3.) The enemy wants to see us unhappy in our marriages. If I let my emotions drive a wedge between my husband and me, the enemy has won a battle. If, on the other hand, I rise above those emotions to seek unity and connection with my husband, I have pushed the enemy aside. My husband and I are one flesh. He is not my enemy, and I like feeling one with him. (See This Profound Mystery.)
Turn my attention to my husband. When I get out of my own head and truly look at my husband, I often find that my hurt feelings can fall away. Sometimes, he wants to make love as a way of reconnecting with me because he also is feeling the emotional disconnection and sex is how he feels most connected with me. When I see that he is seeking a connection with me, it gives me a window into his heart—and I begin to feel all mushy inside.
Ask my husband for help. When I’ve been emotionally hurting, I tell Big Guy. I used to keep it inside, figuring that my feelings should be obvious (as should the cause of those feelings). That isn’t the way it actually works in my marriage, though, so now I tell Big Guy that I’m hurting, and I tell him why: “When I was talking about our plans at dinner and you responded by changing the subject, I felt like you weren’t paying attention to me. I felt like I wasn’t heard, and I felt unloved. I know that my feelings are not truth, but I’m having a hard time shaking them. Could you please help me get past those feelings so I can enjoy sex more?” or “Sweetie, when you started touching me on the [censored] even though I asked you to [more censoring], I felt myself emotionally shutting down. Would you mind if we started over a bit so I can get back in the groove and rebuild my desire for you?”
Proceed anyway, and let sex heal the breach. I have learned that sex can be healing in our marriage. (See Why I Have Sex When I’m Upset with My Husband.) Sometimes I just can’t seem to get to the point of sexual desire—but I know I can follow through with sex despite the fact that I’m not in the mood for it myself. (See How to Have Sex When You Don’t Really Feel Like It.) Sometimes feelings of desire follow my actions, and sometimes it means that I do something just for Big Guy–which can help him feel loved and strengthen our emotional intimacy all on its own. Whether I’m in the mood or not when we begin sex, coming out of it I usually feel more connected to him—and that often helps in healing the rest of what ails me.
The interconnection between my emotions and my sexual desire is so strong that emotions can shut me down sexually. This can be quite frustrating for both my husband and me.
Fortunately, there is an even brighter consequence of this interconnection:
Emotions can also be a pathway to restore my desire.
When a bruised heart shuts down my sexual desire, I begin by restoring my emotional balance—and then I take it a step further to seek emotional reconnection with my husband. Once I find that reconnection, my sexual desire for him flows freely from my heart once more.
When you’re experiencing emotional hurt, how do you restore sexual intimacy? What have you found that works?
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