For me, healing has been a journey—and not always an easy one.
My experience with the healing of sexual intimacy in my marriage has been that healing happens piece by piece, layer by layer.
I suspect this is true for many of us. We heal one layer—and that healed layer grows stronger and more solid. It prepares us for healing the next layer that is revealed.
A Work in Progress
Last year, I wrote A Moment of Hard Truth describing my realization of the anguish I’d caused my husband by sexually depriving him. It was a moment when I was truly broken—and then my healing began.
For nearly two years after that moment, I did a lot of work to change my approach to sex. During that time, I saw great benefit. Every aspect of my marriage improved.
Two years into the process, I thought I was finished with the work: I’d worked hard and had seen the fruits of that effort. My first two posts on this blog (here and here) were written shortly after that two-year point.
When I wrote what eventually became those two posts, I felt like I was presenting a finished product—me! I had been a sexually depriving wife, I saw the error of my ways, I fixed myself, and—voila!—I was done.
Only it turned out I wasn’t.
In fact, I would say that in the two or so years since then, I have grown and healed more than I did in those first couple years.
Layers of Healing
The healing from sexually depriving our husbands seems to have several layers for many women.
- Sad empathy as we become aware of how deeply we’ve hurt our husbands.
- Conviction as we realize that our pattern of sexual refusal had been sin.
- Remorse as we recognize that we could have prevented much of the pain we experienced.
As each of these layers began to heal, my marriage grew stronger. I struggled, and I conquered my struggles. Eventually, I felt safe enough and strong enough that I was prepared to tackle the next layer—one layer at a time.
Each layer has come with its moments of devastation. I’ve been knocked off my feet. I’ve cried bone-wrenching sobs over the hurt I caused my husband. I’ve wailed about the distance I’d put between God and me in my sin. I’ve mourned the loss of years that I wasted instead of building true intimacy.
Although it is rare, on occasion even now I can be knocked to my knees by a wave of realization about one of these things. More and more, it is just a brief wave and I can stay on my feet—but I know the waves are out there and could knock me down again at any time.
Down on Your Knees
You may find that you, too, experience these emotional tidal waves at times—filled with grief and with the groans of your heart.
It is hard, and it can hurt—but always know that God’s grace is right there with you.
When the devastation knocks you to your knees, bow your head and fold your hands. God knows your pain, and He will be right there with you, every step and every fall along your way.
You may experience other layers of healing. You may experience them in a different order than I did. God will be there for all those layers, too. He is in each part of your journey.
Clothed with Joy
Each moment of grief is an invitation to work on another piece of your healing. God opens your heart and eyes to what is next—and He is there with you to face it.
Beloved sister, allow yourself to grieve the pain you’ve caused and felt in your own heart. Know that with time, that grief can turn into deep joy—because underneath those layers of sad empathy, conviction, and remorse lie other layers for us to dig into:
- Relief from the pain and tension that had grown in our marriages.
- Contentment that we could see our husbands as sanctuary rather than adversary.
- Delight as we embrace our sexuality as an integral part of who we are as wives.
Healing is a journey and a process. Piece by piece, layer by layer, and wave by wave, God removes our sackcloth to clothe us with joy.
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. Psalm 30:11-12
Image courtesy of suwatpo at FreeDigitalPhotos.net