Hillsong’s Hosanna includes the lyrics “break my heart for what breaks yours.” I think of those words every time I receive a message from yet another hurting spouse. Surely God’s heart breaks for hurting marriages.
Right after listening to that song today, I received an email. Sadly, it wasn’t much different from many other emails I’ve received: yet another husband is giving up the pursuit of intimacy in his marriage and thinking that death would be better than the misery in his life.
My friends, I wish I could tell you how much this hurts my heart.
At one time, I wished my husband would give up the pursuit of intimacy with me. I was tired of the fighting, the constant tension, and the emotional hurt that seemed to pile on top of me, day after day and night after night.
Although I was physically interested in sex, my emotional state could turn me off like the flip of a switch.
Reading the emails and comments I see from husbands who are chronically deprived of sexual intimacy, I see what I almost had in my husband: a man beaten down by the lack of connection with the one person who is supposed to show him love, thinking that death might be a better alternative to the life he is living.
That is what I nearly condemned my husband to. Although my husband wouldn’t have sought death, he certainly didn’t go out of his way to avoid it.
Big Guy has a host of medical issues, many of which have become more complicated because he went several years without pursuing treatment.
He had been physically uncomfortable, knowing his body didn’t feel right—but at the time when treatment would have headed off much of what he faces now, he had no reason to try to stick around. He figured he was worth more to me dead than alive, so why fight it? What was the motivation to get better?
I noticed none of his physical symptoms. Why not? I was too busy avoiding him and being angry with him for his constant sexual pressure. Even more, there was part of me that thought my life might be easier if he would die. He wouldn’t be begging me for sex anymore. I could raise the kids, get sympathy for being a widow, and eventually settle down into a new marriage that surely would be easier than the one I had.
The lack of intimacy in our marriage was driving my husband toward his death, emotionally and physically. I neither noticed nor cared, and neither did he.
I didn’t put my husband on the path to poor health, but I didn’t make him want to leave that path once he got there.
Death seemed like a better option than the marriage I allowed my husband to have.
When I took that first step to work on sexual intimacy, I figured it would make my husband happy. I had no idea how much I would gain as a result.
- True intimacy is a gift beyond what I had imagined. Sex is part of that, but it isn’t the whole story. When I struggle, I know I am safe sharing it with Big Guy. I know he will pray for me and encourage me. He sees me at my worst, yet he reaches out to embrace me. He sees me exhausted from a difficult week, and he bathes me.
- I feel a sense of belonging in my marriage that I have never felt elsewhere. The hug we share at the end of the day when he comes home from work settles me and makes me feel like my home is truly home once more.
- I have a man who is trying to stay alive—because he wants more time with me. He is working with several specialists to address his health problems. He has something to live for, and I am part of that.
- As an overweight woman in a world filled with photo editing, I often struggle to feel beautiful. But when I am with Big Guy, I know how beautiful I truly am.
- Feeling connected with him rather than at constant odds with him brings much peace into my life.
- I have total freedom in the marriage bed with him. He has seen me in ways that no other person ever has.
- I have been trusted with his heart. After experiencing years of rejection and a lack of love from me, I now hold the very precious gift of his heart in my hands. I have seen him in total uninhibited freedom just as he has seen me.
- Sex has become a gift—a connection, a celebration, a communion. The thing I fought for so many years now commemorates our marriage time after time.
These things aren’t just good, they are the best things in my life. I have work that I find meaningful, young adult kids who are a joy, and good friends—but these things that have grown in my marriage are part of God’s best goodness for me.
I am glad to be able to say how thankful I am for my husband and for the intimacy between us. I am thankful that I managed to take that first step on a journey that led us to where we are now.
If I had not taken that journey, I would have given up the greatest joys in my life.
Every time I get an email from another husband who is giving up the pursuit of intimacy, my heart hurts.
I am heartbroken for him, of course. Yearning for the thing you thought would be part of marriage is a painful place to be. This man, like many others (see this page), is miserable.
Just as much, though, I am heartbroken for his wife—and for all the other wives like her. Like I was.
In neglecting the sexual intimacy in their marriages, they are missing out on so much for themselves.
They are missing the very things that bring me the most joy.
It breaks my heart—and I think it breaks God’s heart, too.
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