Some wives have plenty of reasons for not trying to improve sexual intimacy in their marriages. Sex is less pure and godly than other non-flesh aspects of marriage. Husbands should love us for our hearts, not for our parts. Sex is just too much of an idol. We’re tired. We have other things to do. Sex is supposed to diminish as we get older.
Plus, it isn’t like sex is going to fix anything, right? Sex doesn’t really make any difference, does it?
For instance, sex can’t fix the big problems in life. At best, maybe it provides a little distraction and some occasional comfort.
My husband and I have hit a very difficult spot, with both of us out of work and no prospects in front of us. My husband spent the entire day on the phone and submitting applications online, only to be told that either he didn’t have enough of the right kind of experience or that he was overqualified.
I have never seen my husband as broken as I have seen him today. He is scared about our future and is questioning much about life. Seeing him like this has been frightening to me. Although I have complete faith that God will take care of us, this is a dark and difficult time.
One of the wonderful things about a good marriage is the comfort you can find in your spouse. So, at one point today, we even attempted to have sex. It didn’t work for either of us, but there was some comfort in simply setting aside worries and frustrations for a while and simply being with each other. So, sure, sex helped a little, even though there wasn’t a happy ending.
It’s just about sex, right?
Several years ago when I began to recognize that denying my husband sex was hurting him, I really thought it was just about sex. I thought that for a long time after I began the journey, too. Over time, we became more comfortable with each other. We worked more as a team. Our marriage became happier overall. Still, I thought it was mostly about having a better sexual relationship and that this just spilled over into other areas.
But something more happened. The journey that I thought was about sex has proven to be about intimacy. I mean real intimacy, the kind where there are no more walls between spouses, where everything is visible to the other. I had always liked having clear boundaries between my husband and me. My inner-most heart was protected. The thought of complete intimacy terrified me.
As a result of improved physical intimacy with the growth and freedom in our marriage bed, we had grown in terms of emotional intimacy. We had become more of a team, with a shared sense of living life together more than two people living parallel lives in a shared space. Growing toward the one-flesh-ness of marriage made me feel more complete—except for one thing. Rather than being glad that I still had my inner-most heart to myself, I had come to feel that something was still missing. I realized that it was spiritual intimacy.
The final frontier
When we were first dating, my husband asked if we could pray together. That sounded far too intimate to me, so I stomped out that idea right away—and it had never come up again. We usually say grace before meals, but my husband and I have never really prayed together. Ever. But now that our intimacy has grown in other areas, I realized I wanted that.
I prayed for that to happen. I asked my husband to lead us in devotionals and Bible studies on occasion; sometimes he would, but without prayer. I talked with him about the growth in my personal prayer life. I made vague references to the idea of us praying together. I didn’t push, because I had a sense that it was important for him to lead in this. I figured my spiritual refusal when we were newly dating had damaged that part of our relationship. My fear of intimacy had stunted our growth in every area. So I prayed for God to work in my husband’s life and help me stay out of the way.
A few weeks ago, he asked if he could begin praying together at bedtime. My heart soared, even though there was a small part of me that was scared at letting go of that last little bit of heart privacy.
That night, my husband placed a pillow on the floor for my achy knees and we knelt next to each other. He wrapped his arms around me. As he began to speak to God, I felt God’s arms wrapped around both of us together.
I have known this man for twenty-seven years, yet I have learned new things about him as he has opened his heart during our prayer time. Our marriage has grown so strong and solid over the past couple years, but something was still missing. Now, it isn’t.
One step led to another, which led to another . . .
Today, as my hurting husband shared his heart with me, I wrapped my arms around him and listened to him tell me his fears. He allowed himself to be vulnerable, trusting that I would not reject him in any way. Although hearing his fears reminded me of my own, it also showed me very clearly that there are no more barriers between us. I laid my head on his chest and thanked God that in the midst of the darkness I could see this beautiful connection between us.
I held my husband’s heart within my own. I thought about the journey that had led us to this point. The new spiritual intimacy between us made this connection possible—and the spiritual intimacy was made possible by the improved emotional intimacy, which was made possible by the improved physical intimacy.
In other words, our full intimacy, with our hearts completely shared, was made possible by . . . sex.
Sex doesn’t fix everything. Sex doesn’t really make any difference, does it?
Or maybe. . . it makes all the difference in the world.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net