And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
I’m an advocate for the “fake it until you make it” approach to improving sexual intimacy. I acted my way into a feeling that I enjoyed sex.
However, I think there is only one reason this approach worked for me:
I wanted it to.
Many women who work toward change have hearts that have truly been changed.
Their hearts have softened toward their husbands. They have been convicted by the Holy Spirit that their constant refusal to have sex is a sin. They have grown far apart from their husbands and are choosing to restore the marriage, throwing themselves fully into this one last-ditch effort. They are pursuing change and healing for themselves, their husbands, and their marriages.
Some of these women make a dramatic transformation overnight. Others progress more slowly. Whether it takes a day or a year for any changes to be visible, their hearts have changed and these women are all in.
They may need to act their way into the feeling of enjoying sex, but their efforts will likely work because they desire success. When they stumble, they will dust themselves off and pick up where they left off. It will be hard work, but they will do it because they want it to work. They want to grow in compassion for their husbands—so they do.
If a wife’s heart has been transformed, she will likely find joy and contentment in the effort to grow and change. Her new sexual actions will feel more true than false because her heart is fully engaged in the endeavor.
Some women who try to act their way into the feeling, though, fight an uphill battle. Their hearts still hold on to hurt, bitterness, or resentment. Their minds may know they need to work on sex, but their hearts aren’t fully there.
They work on sex because their husbands have threatened to leave or to talk with the pastor. They do it because they have read somewhere that wives are never to deny their husbands sex. They hate sex, but since they believe they’re supposed to do it anyway, they begrudgingly go through the motions.
They try to read books about sexual intimacy only to throw them across the room. They get halfway into the first chapter before they think they are being told that they have been wrong; the book then sits and gathers dust. They post comments on blogs to point out that some women just don’t like sex and they resent any implication that they should be having more or different sex. They give in to requests for sex and then complain about it. They agree to work on sex but completely remove certain acts from the menu of possibility, thereby continuing to control the marriage bed. They may think, I’ll do it because I’m supposed to, but I refuse to enjoy it.
They go through the motions, but they want their husband to understand what a sacrifice it is to do so.
If a wife’s heart has not been transformed, she will likely breed more resentment in her efforts to change. Her new sexual actions feel more false than true because they are only on the surface, not from the heart.
For many years, my heart was hardened against my husband. I was filled with resentment and bitterness. I was convinced that only my hurt was valid. I believed the worst of my husband.
Earlier efforts to work on sex had gone nowhere because my actions felt false and insincere. I was too overwhelmed by the unhappiness I’d unsuccessfully tried to set aside in order to follow through with my promises to do better.
My heart made all the difference in the world.
After softening my heart slowly over a period of months, in one fell swoop, God showed me my husband’s heart and changed mine to one of compassion and repentance.
If you have been going through the motions of change in your habits of sexual intimacy and don’t seem to be making any progress, consider the state of your heart.
Do you want your efforts to work?
Even with a changed heart, you might make slow progress. You may have a lot of your own hurt to get through. Or maybe you do better when you move slowly. If your heart is in the right place, you will know it—and your efforts are likely to succeed.
If you find that you frequently feel resentment or annoyance that you are having to deal with all this sex stuff, it may be that your heart is not yet on board.
Fortunately, there is a wonderful solution for this:
Ask God to transform your heart.
Working on sex when your heart has been changed is a completely different experience from working on it when your heart is still hardened against your husband. (Ask me how I know.)
With a changed heart, you can find the motivation to keep going. You will have comfort in knowing that your new sexual habits are right and good and holy.
In the sidebar of my blog is the verse that best expresses what God did to help me make changes:
Make me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me. ~ Psalm 51:10
If you face the prospect of changing sexual intimacy with a heavy heart, consider asking God to transform your heart and renew a right spirit within you.
Image credit: Chris Taylor