I knew that my years of refusal and gate-keeping had taken their toll on my husband. Much of the work I’ve done in changing, then, has naturally been focused on trying to undo this damage to him. I’ve worked to make it up to him. I’ve judged progress largely by his experiences and views. When he said he felt more married than he ever had before, I knew that something was working. When he asked me for something new sexually for the first time in a couple decades, I sensed that he felt largely healed

Somehow I kept forgetting that my years of refusal and gate-keeping had taken their toll not just on my husband and on our marriage, but on me as well. I didn’t trust my husband. I never felt like he truly saw me. When it came to our sex life, I felt like it was all for him. His pleasure was primary, and mine was an afterthought. I got so used to suppressing my desire for sex that I nearly lost the ability to recognize it for what it was. Basically, I lost touch with my sexual self.

I had much to unlearn, and that was what provided most of my husband’s healing. Simply changing how I responded to him (and by “simply,” I do NOT mean “easy”) assured him of my love and commitment. Once that was mostly done, I still had a lot of re-learning to do for my own sake. I had to learn how to trust, how to give, how to ask, and how to receive. I am still very much a work in progress. I’ve especially struggled with these things:

Knowing that I have the right to request sexual activity.  I’m not talking about initiating a mutual encounter here. That I can do. I’m talking about feeling an itch and wanting it scratched even when my husband would rather do something else (e.g., sleep). I have been working hard to get out of the patterns that developed out of guilt that told me I didn’t have the right to pleasure after denying my husband so much pleasure over the years.

Asking for what I want. Even when we are in a mutual sexual encounter, I often struggle to ask for something specific. Do I not know what I would like? Am I not comfortable saying the words when they matter so much? Do I not fully embrace my sexual self? I suspect it’s a bit of all these things.

Receiving graciously. The part of me that has turned down lovely offers of assistance from friends during times of family crisis pulls the same “oh, don’t bother, it isn’t necessary, I’ll be just fine” garbage in bed with my husband. If he tries to provide me with pleasure because it’s what he wants, no problem. But sexual activity that is focused on me alone? Nope. Just not something I’m comfortable with.

I have been working on all these things, digging into root causes, spending a lot of time with God, practicing doing and saying the things that make me uncomfortable. I see glimpses of progress here and there, and that encourages me to keep going.

I’ve had a bad body image week. God has been surrounding me with opportunities to think hard about my body with several online discussion forum threads, blog posts, a book I’m reading, and a marital videotaping experience that I’m still trying to figure out how to write about. As we went to bed last night, I found myself thinking I wanted some sexual connection, but I felt more like a slug than a sexual being due to the body image baggage I dragged upstairs with me. I decided I wanted to get right in my head before initiating anything (knowing that might be a couple days), so I lay in bed next to my husband and said nothing. My husband rolled over and started to fall asleep.

I learned that my husband knows me better than I’ve sometimes given him credit for. I had tossed my legs over his, so apparently my body knew I needed to ask even though my mind was struggling with my body. He reached over and started touching me–because he recognized that I needed something. He wanted nothing for himself. I was so overcome with gratitude for this man who knew what I needed and simply gave it to me. I found myself asking for very specific things, which he happily did.

All these things I’ve been working to learn as I’ve tried to reclaim my sexual self in our marriage happened naturally, without any particular effort on my part. I closed my eyes and thanked God for giving me a man who would do this for me. I thanked Him for allowing me to just soak in the blessings from my husband.

My prayer of gratitude led to a feeling of such peace and restoration. As I lay curled up on my husband’s chest in my afterglow a bit later, I knew that I had been healed of the damage caused by my own refusal and gate-keeping.

It was three years ago today that I first recognized how I’d been hurting my husband. It is appropriate that today is the day I wake up and know that I, too, am healed of the damage I caused. I have been given the gift of my husband, all over again. Our marriage has been given the gift of healing.

Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7 Thoughts on “The Gift of Healing

  1. belovedalways on September 5, 2013 at 7:32 am said:

    Happy Awakening Anniversary!!

  2. You have given your husband a truly wonderful gift. You opened yourself up to him in a very meaningful way for a husband. You allowed him to give you both emotional support and sexual pleasure at the same time.

    I read comments written by you and your sister bloggers about submission, and submission is truly a wonderful gift, but too often it feels too one sided. I think it gets lost that loving husbands desire to please their wives. A loving husband looks to share that loving bond with his wife. You allowed your husband to give himself to you in a way that you have been giving yourself to him. I’m sure it was a meaningful and emotional experience for him as well as you.

    Congratulations on you anniversary. As they used to say in an “OLD” TV commercial…”You’ve come a long way, Baby…”

    • “…but too often it feels too one sided. I think it gets lost that loving husbands desire to please their wives. A loving husband looks to share that loving bond with his wife.” My husband says it heightens his sexual experience when I accept that he has this desire to please me, but he cannot do that unless I accept that desire in him.

      This is an interesting statement Rick, thank you for sharing that, I never looked at it that way – it made me think.

  3. This is beautiful FW. I struggle with similar thoughts. How can I ask for anything when I was so awful for so long? Such an internal battle sometimes.

  4. I also struggle with those thoughts,especially the body image. I have so wanted to ask him…”do you ever feel selfish?”…not in a snarky way, don’t get me wrong. I removed snark from the house, especially the bedroom, months ago. And its really not that he should feel that way, like u, its the “asking”, I guess. It’s helpful to know I’m not the only one.

  5. Wonderful post! Although I’ve never once denied my husband, but have been denied many times (I’m the higher drive spouse), I really struggle with asking my husband to help quench my sexual desire on a night where he is not in the mood.
    We are a little older, he’s 58 and I’m 48 (second marriage for both of us) and due to his age, taking blood pressure meds and working 12-hour days Monday thru Friday, he’s not only exhausted during the week, but unable to respond as quickly or spontaneously as we both would like.

    Needless to say, I feel selfish about asking him for anything, so I just try to drown the desirous feelings and choose not to say anything about how I’m feeling. I do let him know often how much I desire him and wish we had more time for lovemaking, and he has listened and made an effort to try for at least one night during the week to make love, but it’s not easy with his schedule and with my two teen boys in the house. 😉
    After five or more days of no sexual intimacy though I just feel so disconnected and honestly, am pretty hot and horny.

    One revelation I’ve had though while trying to figure out how to deal with these unmet desires, is that most of the time it isn’t about hitting the big O or just having sex, it’s more about the touching and connecting intimately with my husband…that feeling of being really desired when he passionately kisses me outside of the bedroom or caresses me even if we don’t have sex. This revelation of what I was craving most came about one night when I was near tears after a week of no lovemaking and made a comment about not feeling desired by him. My husband surprisingly said, “you don’t think I desire you?” and I think that’s when it hit me that I do know in my heart he desires me sexually, I just need to ‘feel’ it more through him touching and kissing me throughout the week even if it doesn’t lead to sex. It’s keeping that sexual connection going so that I don’t start feeling undesired after days without making love, kwim?

    So there are my rambling thoughts this morning…LOL

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