I’m sitting here with cup #3 of my Saturday morning coffee. I’ve hung a couple loads of laundry on the line and am thinking about getting my hair cut today. I have a sinus headache on the back burner, but I’m feeling much more rested than I was yesterday.
Yesterday’s medical appointments were generally good. I was relieved to hear my husband express his own concerns about his irritability to the doctor. He’s noticed himself being short with people and having no tolerance for other people’s mistakes. He could see that his behavior is affecting relationships. Until I heard his own concerns, I hadn’t realized how much it mattered to me that he recognized that my observations and concerns were valid.
We came home for a bit and then headed to the hospital for his CT scan. Sitting in the waiting room was very settling for me. After using my phone to write a blog post, I pulled out my knitting and just immersed myself in the repetitive task of making a baby blanket for one of my student workers. After a while, a man came in with his daughter. She was getting an MRI and handed her father her underwire bra since she’d forgotten the no-metal rule of having MRI’s. He didn’t even blink; he just put the bra gently on the chair next to him and read his newspaper. It was nice to realize that I was smiling.
After my husband’s CT scan, we went out for dinner. We haven’t had a date in several weeks. Our kids’ schedule has gotten more hectic as the summer wraps up, and my family campout took me away for several days. The weekend before that, my husband’s family came to visit, so we’ve been busy, my husband’s been irritable and grumpy, we haven’t had much time for good sex, and I’ve been stressed. As we sat across from each other, I could feel some of my stress seep away. I hadn’t realized how much my husband has become an anchor in my life. Time with him builds me up and gives me something to draw on.
During our bad years, our very rare dates would be filled with tension. We would both know that he would ask for sex. He would be bracing for the probable rejection, and I would be trying to talk myself into it while working on an excuse that could sound like a good reason for “no.” Now, my husband has become my sanctuary. I enjoy being with him in a way I haven’t since before we married. He feels like home to me.
After we got back to the house, my husband realized that the barium CT prep stuff was giving him a rumbly belly, so we decided that sex might not be a good ending to our date. I was so refreshed in my time with my husband that I didn’t even mind. We went to bed early for naked movie watching and both fell asleep. In the middle of the night, he gently woke me up and engaged me in a very satisfying and healing sexual encounter. He showed me that he had heard my frustrations from earlier in the week. My heart melted over that. I woke up this morning to find myself wrapped in his arms. I love the contrast of his hairy arms and my softer skin. It has always been one of the things that makes me feel feminine and loved. It was a perfect way to begin my day.
For many years, I resisted my husband in so many ways. My walls against him were thick. I was stubborn. He kept trying to get in, and I just added more stones and bricks to the wall. Now that the walls are down, I’ve fully let my husband into my heart. Everything feels different now. My time with him is healing rather than tense. He is a sanctuary rather than a perceived source of stress. Our sexual encounters are no longer power battles; most of the time, they are filled with mutual pleasure and giving. I’ve had more orgasms (and better ones) in the past twelve hours than I used to have in a month. The emotional intimacy that I craved for so long had been waiting on the other side of my walls, and now it is such a part of our interactions that our family and friends have noticed how happy we are in our marriage. The walls I’d built to keep my husband out had been a barrier that kept me from seeking God. With the walls down, I feel more a child of God than I ever had in my life.
Every single thing in my life is better now. Our marriage isn’t perfect; after all, it is populated by two flawed human beings. But we are striving, individually and as a unit, to be better and do better. And as our marriage continues to grow, it becomes something I can draw on to cope with other things in my life.
When I look at how our marriage was three years ago, I see something that barely looks like a marriage. Had we continued as we were then, I don’t know that we would still be married now. If we had been, I suspect we would be living very separate lives. We probably would’ve stopped arguing altogether and would be in a constant state of apathy. That first step of making one small change has made an amazing difference in our lives. The first step was the hardest, but it led to a second step and a third and then a journey that continues to carry us forward.
I can’t help but wonder how many couples are living in marriages of apathy and discontent now. Are they like I was, disbelieving that anything could be different and incapable of seeing that their marriages could grow into a source of joy? All it takes is one person to make a decision to change.
Change can be slow, and there might be times of growth and regression. I think of all the women I know who have developed patterns of withholding and restricting sex. Whether those patterns developed as a result of baggage brought into the marriage, low libido, or the realities and details of life, these women are missing out on an opportunity for an incredible joy—something I rejected for years. Just one change can be the first step toward a happier marriage.
So I sit here (with coffee #4 by now), filled with wonder at how despite my recent stress and all the transition in my life, I am filled with a joy I’ve never felt before. I wonder at God’s work in my life and in my marriage. I thank Him for my husband and for the marriage we continue to build. God has blessed me beyond measure.
What a world of difference that first step made.