Yesterday, my drive to work was filled with a deep and revealing exploration of some roots of some of my gate-keeping and refusal. I hesitated to write about what I uncovered–largely because what I uncovered could too easily distract from the point. What I learned isn’t why I was writing that post.
This blog is about the process of learning, growing, and breaking away from sexual patterns that have not been good in marriage. I share my own experiences not because I think they are universal or because I think the specifics matter to anyone other than my husband and me. I share them because they illustrate the process of growth and because it is how I can show that a heart can truly be opened.
What matters here isn’t what I uncovered in digging deeper. What does matter is that the process of digging revealed feelings that were connected to the refusal and gate-keeping in my marriage. Process matters. Doing the work matters. We dig, we uncover, and then we use what we’ve learned about ourselves to grow.
The knowledge I gained–about myself and about a process for understanding myself– has already helped me communicate with my husband differently about my needs. Since I wrote yesterday’s post, my husband and I have made love. In the immediate post-coital time (aka, afterglow), something happened in the same way that it has for most of our marriage. I had a fleeting thought that related to what I had learned, a feeling about how my husband viewed what we had just done.
It was a thought I’d had countless times before. I spent some time mulling it over in my mind, working to understand that thought by digging back, digging deeper, to see what that thought was really about.
So this morning, I was able to talk with my husband about it in a very different way than I had in the past. I was able to frame it by reminding him of how what I most value in making love with him is how it helps me feel connected to him and that we are part of each other. With this context, and an understanding in myself of how this afterglow pattern interfered with that connection, I was able to explain my request in a way that made new sense to both of us.
I didn’t just need us to do something differently; I needed us to do something differently because this is the way I will feel most connected to my husband. Understanding myself made it possible for me to help my husband understand why my request matters to our marriage.
When gate-keeping and refusing have been our standard sexual pattern, we have a lot of work to do in breaking out of that pattern and helping create a new one in our marriages. Work to understand yourself–and remember that growth is a process. When we learn something about ourselves and don’t use it, we’ve stunted our growth. Dig deep, learn, and the next day, use what you’ve learned to keep on growing.