I Want . . .


A refusing and gate-keeping wife faces challenges when she changes her approach to intimacy. She has to change her behavior, her words, her body language, her attitude, her heart. The changes that really matter require transformation of self.

Some women seem to handle this well. Not me. It has been a struggle for me every single step of the way—even now, when so much of our marriage is so much better and I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. So many times, I’ve felt like I was squashing my self and sacrificing my own wants and needs for the sake of my husband and my marriage. A good wife would do this without complaining, I would think. But he’s asking me to be someone other than who I am—someone who enjoys sex, can block out the possibility that the kids might hear or need me, feels confident and sexy despite being in a body that looks like this.

He wanted me to be . . . not me. I wanted so desperately to feel loved, accepted, and seen; knowing that my husband wanted me to be something I was not felt like a rejection of my true self.

He would tell me what he wanted—more intimacy with his wife, not feeling like he was “getting lucky” if he actually got to have sex, to know that we could have sex at least once a week, to feel like he was important to me than the kids were.

How do you give voice to the deep desires of your heart and soul? How do you say, “I want this” without taking the risk of not getting it and not having that desire be valued as important? I realize now how much courage and vulnerability my husband showed in telling me what he wanted—but at the time, all I could see was that he wanted who and what I wasn’t.

My heart would scream out, “But what about what I want?” Sometimes I would give voice to these words, and my husband would say, “Then tell me what you want. I’ll do anything.”

I always knew what my deep desires were. I knew them when I was refusing and gate-keeping. I knew them as I was struggling to start making changes. I knew them when things finally started to be better. Even when I knew my heart had changed, I knew what I wanted. I knew them a year ago. I knew them this morning.

“What do you want?” he would say.

What do I want?

I want . . .

I want to know that even though it’s logical to assume I won’t be hurt, you want to protect me from the possibility.

I want to know that you can’t believe the awesome blessing that you actually got me.

I want to know that you’re grateful for the work I did on myself so you could have the marriage you wanted. You used to say you would do anything for that. Would you still?

I want to know that you pay attention to my body—how it responds, how it changes, what it wants—and not to an idea of how women are supposed to be.

I want you to make love to all of me—not just to the obvious parts, but to all the parts in between. To my mind. To my heart.

I want to know that you are transformed when you are with me.

I want to know not just that you love and feel loved, I want to know what meaning that has in your life.

I want to know that my happiness is more important than yours, at least some of the time.

I want to be on a pedestal sometimes.

I want you to ask me what I want more often, and not just when you’re upset about not getting what you want.

I want to know that what you have to put up with from me is worth it.

I want to know that even though I shouldn’t want all these things, you love me enough to try.

I want to know that you’re my rock.

I want you to make me know that everything will be okay.

I want to know that being one flesh with me is the way you feel most whole.

I want to know that I am not a commercial but the best program ever.

I want to matter.

I want to know that you want to protect my heart and that I can trust you with it.

I want to know that making changes is more becoming who I am than becoming who I am not.

I want to know that I am part of you.

I want to know that you thank God for me, and why.

I want to know that I am worth the sacrifices you have to make.

I want to know I am seen, known, and loved anyway.

And out loud I would say, “I don’t know.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Over the past 3 ½ years, I have slowly allowed myself to speak some of these desires to my husband. It isn’t easy, even now. Some of these are desires that reveal my selfish nature. Some of these are things I no longer want—or that I have now. Some are things that my mind knows that I have even though my heart doesn’t always feel it. Some are things that my heart still cries out for.

I am sharing them here because my marriage is still a work-in-progress, and so am I. When I say I can walk with you a while on this journey, it’s because I’m still walking it myself.

Sometimes, what we truly want is hard to put into words and acknowledge to ourselves, much less to our husbands.

When your husband asks you, “What do you want?” do you know the answer? Does the answer get spoken, or does it sit in your heart, unheard by the one person who most needs to hear it?

All these things I want are a reflection of my whole true self, even the parts I don’t like. I want my husband to accept all of me—yet as long as I withhold these desires out of fear or embarrassment, I am denying him the opportunity to do just that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As I look at the list of all that I wanted from my husband, though, it is clear that many of my desires are things that can be met by God alone. My heart cried out to my husband for not meeting my needs, when I should have been crying out to God instead. For so many years, I held it against my husband that he wasn’t doing things that I never should have expected of him in the first place. Until I grew in the Lord, my husband was fighting an uphill battle for my heart.

I still struggle with the long list of all that I want. There are desires I still want my husband to fulfill that I should be taking to God. I am still walking this journey of learning and repenting, and I know I still fall short of where I should be.

Over the past 3 ½ years, I have grown so much, transforming myself more and more into the woman God wants me to be. From the outside, it is easy to describe this transformation as a result of the changes in my sexual behaviors and attitudes. In a way, that is true.

What is even more true, though, is that inside, the transformation of my heart has come from learning to immerse myself more and more in my relationship with the Lord.

When your husband asks, “What do you want?” do you know the answer? And are you wanting your husband to fulfill the needs of your heart that you should be taking to God instead?

Delight yourself in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

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25 Comments on “I Want . . .”

  1. I had to cry reading your post…I so get your heart and soul…and know how we are to turn that all over to God that He will fulfill our longing in our hearts…praying for you and for me to be filled by Him…

  2. This is encouraging …you said so many of the things that I feel 🙂

    Praying for faith to trust that as I seek to change, I will feel more like myself, not like I have denied my true nature. This is opposite of what I feel now. “Lord, I believe, please help my unbelief”

    1. For me, it was the first months of intentional effort that were the hardest. I was fighting this battle in my head every single day during that time. Although I still struggle now sometimes, I do so knowing that doing the work will help me be more of who I am and not less. Praying to believe is a good start.

  3. I don’t know how to get over the fear and embarrassment of asking for what I want. When he asks that, sometimes I really don’t know, but sometimes I really don’t want to risk the possible rejection (not unfounded) of putting voice to my desires.

    What I really want more than anything is acceptance so that I would be free to tell him anything without fear or rejection or judgment.

  4. “I still struggle with the long list of all that I want. There are desires I still want my husband to fulfill that I should be taking to God.”
    Perhaps we husbands should consider doing the same.
    Also though:
    “But he’s [she’s] asking me to be someone other than who I am—someone who [doesn’t] enjoys [desire or need] sex, [I] can block out the possibility that the kids might hear or need [WANT] me [in the moment], [who needs to believe you] feels confident and sexy despite being in a body that looks like this [that I am ready to ravish at a moments notice].

    Are you also asking us to be something we aren’t? Marriage is at times a two-way street. If it were a two-lane one-way street and we were both always going in the same direction at all times, life would be so much easier, but it’s not. Even when it is, we are not always going side-by-side at the same speed.

    1. That’s part of where the struggle comes in–knowing in my head that it is unreasonable and unfair but my heart wanting it nonetheless.

      I think, too, that there is a difference between telling my husband what I want and asking him to do it. Sharing my desires–even the ones I don’t actually expect him to fulfill–is part of the process of building intimacy.

      1. I agree about sharing desires you know may or cannot be fulfilled being an intimacy building process.

        “…knowing in my head that it is unreasonable and unfair but my heart wanting it nonetheless.”
        “My heart would scream out, “But what about what I want?”
        ” …I have slowly allowed myself to speak some of these desires to my husband. It isn’t easy, even now. Some of these are desires that reveal my selfish nature…Some are things that my heart still cries out for.”

        This is the second time time in as many days I have seen a wife say this about needs or desires they have, and generally having nothing to do with sexual acts or frequency like most males. It concerns me to see women feeling they are being selfish. Perhaps I misunderstand what you are saying. If you are speaking about feeling selfish when wanting to have your needs met as a woman and wife, I would like to hear more about that. I don’t understand/agree with the position that you are being selfish when the heart wants what the heart wants. I know we are all capable of wanting things not in our best interest as an individual or partner in a relationship, but for a woman, what would those things be. Another post or two perhaps?

        1. I’m not feeling selfish about having needs or desires in general. That comment is referring to some of the specific desires I list, which do grow out of selfishness. Also, there’s a difference between having a desire and an expectation. I spent a lot of years perceiving my desires as expectations–and standards–that my husband could never live up to. That is selfishness.

  5. I forgot to thank you for the heartfelt list of what you wanted. That was extremely enlightening. That is the type of discourse I too am seeking: direct and honest. Couching conversation with qualifiers and p.c. verbiage seems to have resulted in little change.

    “I want you to ask me what I want more often, and not just when you’re upset about not getting what you want.” Tough one for us to keep mentally in the forefront. Sorry.

    “I want to know not just that you love and feel loved, I want to know what meaning that has in your life.” Very hard for us to articulate, especially when asked out of the blue as you await an immediate answer. Not our strong suit and one of your deepest desires to know. Again, sorry.

    Below are two enlightening and often sad sets of comments that were optionally made by participants on a survey at these two sites. I will mail you about them to save you slogging to find all the things I did in conjunction with the surveys. They did some excellent work. In places, your heart will ache for the participants.



    1. I’ll look for your email. My heart aches frequently when I read comments and survey results. It makes me all the more glad that we aren’t where we were.

  6. “Sometimes what we truly want is hard to put in words or even acknowledge ourselves,,,,” Oh so true! I feel this way most of the time. Thank you for sharing this Chris and for giving words to what I cannot, Weeping…it helps just a bit knowing I am not alone in all this learning about self, life, relationships, wants, needs, desires, and then all the same for my husband. Blessings to you!

  7. “He wanted me to be . . . not me.”

    But what if, upon introspection, “Me” turns out to be not-so-nice, and not really something to be held onto? Isaiah speaks about our righteousness being “filthy rags”, and Jesus tells a parable about a man invited to a wedding who clutches his rags to himself, even though offered new, clean clothes. I wonder what it is that makes our ragged self so much preferable to a transformed self.

    1. The ragged self is familiar and known. I have let fear of the unknown drive too many decisions in my life. The further along I am in this transformation process, the clearer it is that who I am becoming feels much more like “me” than the previous version of myself ever did.

      1. I think this is particularly true of both sexes as we get beyond middle-age. We have so long been either living a life to please others or living a life of challenge-less comfort to avoid conflict or stress with others or our own selves. As the clock winds down at what seems an alarmingly ever-increasing speed, we realize our only chance in this lifetime for fulfillment, excitement, joy, and love is ending. Now, we choose change and unavoidable conflict and stress abounds. But it is good what we do choose change. It is likely our God-designed purpose is finally perfected (realized and completed) in that change.

        Excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding,” last two stanzas:

        “With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

        We shall not cease from exploration
        And the end of all our exploring
        Will be to arrive where we started
        And know the place for the first time.
        Through the unknown, unremembered gate
        When the last of earth left to discover
        Is that which was the beginning;
        At the source of the longest river
        The voice of the hidden waterfall
        And the children in the apple-tree

        Not known, because not looked for
        But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
        Between two waves of the sea.
        Quick now, here, now, always–
        A condition of complete simplicity
        (Costing not less than everything)
        And all shall be well and
        All manner of thing shall be well
        When the tongues of flames are in-folded
        Into the crowned knot of fire
        And the fire and the rose are one.”

  8. Much of my guilt (we Catholics just ooze it!) comes from feeling selfish because I am not deserving of my deepest wants and desires. Some fundamental part of me feels as though this is my purgatory for all of the things that I denied my husband in the past or damage I have contributed to my marriage through my thoughts and actions. I think you sort of touch on my way of thinking early in your blog when you say that you felt that after so many years of refusal, you had forfeited your right to complain/demand anything. That is much the same way I feel regarding my wants and needs. It really doesn’t matter whether my husband is deserving of his wants and needs but insofar as mine, they remain unfulfilled after many years of marriage. And the guilt is a heavy burden. Why should I need/want more when I have been blessed many times over with health, wealth, children and family.

    1. I have mostly worked past the feelings of being in a deserved marital purgatory. Every now and then, it tries to bubble up again, and I have to remind myself that I have been forgiven and that I have every right to have the needs and desires that I do. No matter how many blessings you already have, it is still a good and godly thing to desire real intimacy with our husbands. It helped me great deal that my husband gave me words of forgiveness and actions that confirmed it–but I still had to work on accepting that forgiveness.

      Although I no longer feel I don’t have the right to have wants and needs, I still struggle with how to do express them to my husband. During the past year, I have been working very hard on being more respectful of my husband and trying to stand out of God’s way in working on my husband. It is very hard for me to know how to approach my husband about some things. When I say “I want” or “I need,” what my husband often hears is “you aren’t doing enough” or “you are failing me as my husband.” I don’t want him to feel that way–yet at the same time, I know that it was only when I began to recognize those things about myself in our marriage that I became motivated enough to try to grow. And sometimes, those are the moments when my guilt tries to surface. There are times when it is a continuous battle for me–and then long stretches during which there is no such struggle at all.

      You have every right to desire God’s blessings in your marriage. Tell yourself that, out loud if necessary, as often as you can.

      Meanwhile, have you communicated any of your needs to your husband? Have you asked him for forgiveness for your past damage? Has he offered it?

      1. Those are loaded questions at the end of your response. I find myself in a similar position as you did 4 years ago but haven’t been resilient enough to maintain any sort of sustained change that even alludes to a slight difference. Maybe in my own way I have made some small difference at my stabs at change. But nothing to really write a post about. Recently I told him that I felt much like he has felt throughout our 25 year marriage and many if my requests/needs/wants have been reduced to begging which is as demoralizing for me today as it was for him in the past. But bring married to an emotional mute, it is a struggle with each effort to make any headway much less evaluate progress. *deep sigh* Some days I just want to disappear and maybe he can move on. Many more days I remain determine to make progress. I am eternally grateful that I stumbled upon your blog 6 months ago. Your personal history is closest to my own, but I also absorb blog installments of many of your best blog friends. But yours rings closest to my heart.

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