It’s been nearly five years since I began the journey to work on sexual intimacy in my marriage.
This journey has been a lot of hard work—and has resulted in far more blessings than I could have imagined.
At the beginning, I felt fairly alone. I knew God was with me, but I had no idea how to take the first steps. In the first months, I failed more than I succeeded, and I had absolutely no road map for where I was going.
Time and time again, I’ve been struck by how many other women have told me that they, too, have felt alone.
Although different experiences and beliefs contribute to our avoiding and resisting sexual intimacy in our marriages, the effects are fairly similar: our husbands hurt and sometimes withdraw, we hurt as our husbands’ behavior reinforces what we already believe, and our marriages suffer from disunity and disconnection.
We don’t all begin the journey of healing for the same reasons, either. I resisted the need to work on sex but made the decision to change when I was overwhelmed by an understanding of how I’d hurt my husband’s heart, even though I didn’t view my actions as sin. Some women are convicted of their sin in a single moment when the scales fall away from their eyes. Others make the decision as a last-ditch effort to save their marriages after their husbands inform them of their intent to leave a marriage that is quite painful for them.
We don’t all come to this journey in the same way—but once we are here, we all need to figure out how to take those first steps and how to keep going.
It can be overwhelming.
Sitting in the fresh realization that I needed to try to repair what I had broken in our marriage, I had no idea where to start. I didn’t even know all of what needed to be done differently. I had no idea what a healed marriage might look like, and I certainly didn’t know how to get one.
I felt like I’d been sent on a nightmare scavenger hunt, with no list of what items I needed to find or a team to help me. I wasn’t even sure there was really a prize at the end.
My resistance to sex was all-encompassing and had invaded every area of my marriage.
I’d begun changing in the bathroom so my husband wouldn’t see me and get ideas. I avoided being in the same room when we were both home because I might move in a way that would make him think about sex. I didn’t even want to have a conversation with him for fear that I might accidentally indicate that I was in a good mood and have him think I was hinting at sex. I went to bed at different times than my husband. I looked for excuses to have to be away from him.
I had developed a habit of avoiding my husband in every way. How was I supposed to change that habit and work on sex, too?
How could I change things I was barely even aware I was doing? How could I figure out what I needed to change? How could I do all this while grieving the loss of the life and marriage I knew, sacrificing my rights, and believing that my husband would lose all incentive to learn to love me? Despite the fact that I now know that I gained far more than I gave up, at the time all I saw was loss for myself.
Several women have written to me recently to express similar concerns about working on their own marriages.
They, too, are overwhelmed. They are experiencing sadness, shame, conviction, confusion, and a fear of failure.
If you are at the very beginning of your journey—perhaps not even sure you are willing to make the journey yet—I want you to feel encouraged.
You CAN do this—and you don’t have to do it alone!
Take advantage of the resources available to you. Here are some of my favorites, all of which can help you with those earliest steps on your journey:
- My New to This Blog? Start Here page tells you a bit about the ministry of this site and gives you some posts to help you prepare for your first steps.
- For a list of posts specifically about first steps and the earliest part of the journey of change, see Ready, Set, Go!
- If one of your struggles is a low libido, take a look at Bonny’s OysterBed7.
- If your struggle includes a heart that has been hardened to your husband, read The Generous Wife. (I wrote about how her blog helped me in A Change of Heart.)
- There are quite a few books that can help you in understanding God’s design for sexual intimacy in marriage and embracing your sexuality as created by God. (Full disclosure: the links are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase them through these links I get a small fee at no additional charge to you.)
- The Sexually Confident Wife: Connecting with Your Husband Mind Body Heart Spirit
- The Passion Principles: Celebrating Sexual Freedom in Marriage
- Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?
- Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs
- For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men
- Intimacy Ignited: Conversations Couple to Couple: Fire Up Your Sex Life with the Song of Solomon
- Through a Man’s Eyes: Helping Women Understand the Visual Nature of Men
I recently read David’s instructions to Solomon regarding the building of the temple:
Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.
~1 Chronicles 28:20
Think of these words in relation to your own efforts on your marriage:
Be strong and courageous, and act . . .
Do not fear nor be dismayed . . .
The Lord God, my God, is with you . . .
He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work . . . is finished.
You matter to God. Your marriage matters to God. A strong marriage gives us a picture of how Christ loves the church. It provides stability in the face of the inevitable storms of life.
A strong marriage is worth every moment, every effort, and every prayer you give.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of taking this journey, . . .
Be strong and courageous in healing your marriages, and act.
Do not fear or be dismayed, for God is with you every step of the way.
He will not forsake you. He will stay with you on this journey all the way.
You are not alone.