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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?