Five Years, Five Lessons

What lessons are you learning as you work on sexual intimacy in your marriage?

September 5, 2010, was a significant day in our marriage. It was the day my eyes were opened to the hurt my husband was experiencing as a result of my resistance to sex.

This past weekend marked five years that I’ve been on this journey.

When I began to work on our sex life, I expected that I would learn how to tolerate sex. I didn’t expect all the other things I’ve learned.

I’d like to share five lessons I’ve learned from working on sexual intimacy in our marriage—one lesson for each of the five years. I’ve included lessons for you to consider in your marriage, too.

Year 1

I can do far more than I think I can. Through baby steps and leaning on God, I really can change my thoughts, feelings, and habits—without changing who I am. This first year of growth was difficult and saw a lot of failure on my part—but there was just enough success that I kept going anyway.

Lesson for you: Persistence pays off.

Year 2

Sex matters far more than I had realized. The changes to our sex life changed the whole tone of our relationship. Every single aspect of our marriage was better than it had been before. I didn’t feel the need to be constantly reinforcing my walls, and Big Guy wasn’t experiencing the constant feelings of sexual tension and rejection. We both had more to give each other.

Lesson: Sex matters. Sex is more healing than we may realize, and sexual rejection hurts more deeply than we can see.

Year 3

My core issues were more spiritual than relational. As our relationship began to heal and I learned not to let my feelings have such control over me, deeper issues in my heart were exposed that pointed to areas where I needed to grow in my walk with God. Not only did my marriage change, my relationship with God was transformed as well. Furthermore, many of the things I struggled with the most were the result of my husband’s feelings of rejection from me. In other words, I was a major contributor to the worst of the pain I was experiencing.

Lesson: The real problem may not be what you think it is–and you may be part of it.

Year 4

Healing has its own timeline. In the fourth year of this new season of our marriage, Big Guy began to be more sexually relaxed with me. He trusted me enough that for the first time in more than twenty years, he woke me up in the middle of the night to ask for something sexual—without even a concern that I might reject him. It took him several years to rebuild the trust I had damaged.

Lesson: His healing may take time.

Year 5

Feeling safe, love, and accepted makes it easier for my husband to step outside his comfort zone to meet my needs and desires. During the first couple years, I was so filled with remorse that I didn’t express what I wanted because I was putting Big Guy first. Then I began to communicate better about what I needed. Big Guy did a good job of trying to meet my needs when I expressed them. During the past year, however, I have watched him step outside his comfort zone many times to meet needs I didn’t even realize I had. He has upped his game in a big way.

Lesson: Feeling sexually safe and accepted is no guarantee that a husband will become the man of his wife’s dreams, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle.


So there you have it—five lessons (for me and for you) for five years of my journey toward healthy sexual intimacy.

What are you learning from your own journey?

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14 Comments on “Five Years, Five Lessons”

  1. Excellent post, Chris! I will have to translate it into Spanish so I can show it to my wife.

    My wife, who turned 68 in July (I am 76), said that I should have married a younger woman. However, from what I have learned from your blogs, a couple can have enjoyable sex at any age. The trick is to let go of selfishness and be as concerned about the happiness of your mate as your own happiness. This is what I am getting out of your posts and also from posts on this website from other women who have decided to quit denying their husbands sex. May God bless all of you women richly who have made this decision!

      1. Thanks for being honest, Chris! Anyone who says they don’t have any problems with being selfish is a Pharasee and a hypocrite. I believe that all of us as human beings have that problem. We were born that way! It’s something that we all have to unlearn!

  2. After 1 year into the journey and I’m so surprised how much sex means to my husband. I’ve realized how selfish I really am, and how much I need Jesus. Giving my rights, time, wants, needs, desires over to Jesus has blessings. I’ve also realized my husband was an idol. I was not obeying The Lord with a pure heart out of love.
    I was praying for years to change my husband, but not too much me. Now I want to be closer to God. I want that connection with my husband to help him. It’s a spiritual battle and our husbands need us.
    I still fail, but it’s more inward heart attitude instead of a no.
    If you are a wife reading Chris’s posts start today on your knees asking pleading with God to change you whatever it takes.
    Thanks for sharing the year changes it’s encouraging!

  3. I’ve been learning that my old refusing and gatekeeping habits were manifestations of a heart that didn’t really have a personal relationship with our Lord, Jesus. Knowing Him has transformed me inside and out.

    I know that’s not everyone’s story and I think everyone benefits from getting intimate with Jesus while working to get physically intimate with our spouses.

    1. A close walk with Jesus makes what seems un-doable, do-able. For a lot of us, sex is definitely in the Seems Un-doable category, and a stronger relationship with Jesus can make a difference.

    2. Thanks for being honest, Sandi! Many people think that just because they repeated the “Sinner’s Prayer” that they have a relationship with Jesus. We really need to thoroughly examine our practices in Evangelical circles to see if they are Biblical or not. Beginning a relationship with Jesus Christ is a lot more that just repeating a “Sinner’s Prayer” (a practice that is not found in the New Testament). If we really want to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ, we must humble ourselves before the Lord and repent, as you have done.

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