For many years, I felt alone in my marriage.
When I needed support, emotional or otherwise, I never knew if my husband would be there in a way that I needed. I didn’t count on him because I didn’t know if he would be there.
To be fair, I was too afraid to depend on him to ever give him a real chance. My not counting on him was about my lack of trust, not about him at all.
I was afraid to let my husband into my heart, so I built walls that kept him out. Those walls also kept my true heart isolated. I was afraid that if my husband truly knew me, he wouldn’t really love me. I was so afraid that I decided I would rather be alone than take the risk of intimacy.
When I began working on sexual intimacy in our marriage, my only goals were staying married and making life more tolerable. I had no idea that my efforts would lead to a dismantling of the wall—or to true intimacy with Big Guy.
I never thought I would experience intimacy, so I had no expectations of what it would be like.
I have been surprised by many things:
- The comfort of my husband’s arms when he walks through the door at the end of the day and I know he is fully present for me and with me.
- The humbling realization that I am the only person who has seen some places in my husband’s heart.
- The honor of knowing that I am the most important person in my husband’s life.
- The understanding that when my husband says that I’m beautiful, sexy, or amazing, he really, truly means it.
- The freedom of knowing I can be completely uninhibited sexually.
- The joy of experiencing the multi-dimensional connection of sex that involves our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls in a way that nothing else has ever come close to.
- The security of knowing that my husband is with me and part of me in this marriage of ours.
I didn’t expect any of these things, and they are all part of my marriage now.
It could be so easy to feel alone right now. It really could be.
We are getting ready to move, and so many of my bad habits (packrat tendencies, procrastination, avoidance of decision-making, and a dislike of housework) have come to a head as I’ve tried to purge, sort, and pack.
The move is embedded in all sorts of financial issues for us. While the move resolves many challenges we’ve faced, it also brings those challenges back to the surface in a way that is a bit painful at times.
I’m stressed. My husband is stressed. Neither of us is at our best at the moment.
So here I am, overwhelmed, wanting to be taken care of, and struggling to see my husband’s point of view. (Actually, I’m struggling even to remember that I should be trying to see his point of view.) I am emotionally needy at a time when his own stress is rendering him both more in need of me than usual and less able to recognize and meet my needs.
Several weeks ago, I was bemoaning a slump we were in. I was feeling like I was the only one in our marriage who was actually working on the marriage, irritated by my husband for not meeting my unspoken needs, and frustrated with myself for not speaking those needs in the first place.
I let discontent make in-roads into my heart. I had let my unspoken expectations of my husband turn into spots of resentment.
Then this past weekend, Big Guy and I were both irritable with each other. In addition to our impending move, we’d had unexpected car repairs that had dinged our bank account and imposed transportation difficulties on us.
Our stress was feeding our responses to each other. We spent two days stuck in a merry-go-round of frustration and opportunities to apologize to each other.
It can be easy to let details, to-do lists, and frustrations take precedence over relationship at times. It can be hard to remember that difficult times are an opportunity for growth and not just a set of burdens to bear, tasks to cross off a list, and a sign that our relationship is in trouble.
As I said, it could be so easy to feel alone . . . but I don’t.
When we have gone through difficult times in the past, I have been left feeling even more alone than usual, with the sense of constantly fighting against my husband while trying to keep my own head above water.
Without a foundation of intimacy, my husband and I were both left floundering on our own. Sometimes I’m surprised that we weathered any of those times as a couple at all.
We experienced those challenges parallel to each other, but not really with each other. We felt even more disconnected than usual.
This time, though, we are experiencing our stress on top of a foundation of intimacy that has made everything different.
Despite our frustrations, we both have a strong sense that we are together in this. Rather than floundering alone, separately, our connection is the very thing that keeps us afloat as a unit.
The experience of sharing this time with each other deepens our sense of connection.
On the surface, we can see our stress bubbling up. However, we have both seen that our times of sexual closeness have been even more intimate, connective, and restorative than usual.
At the beginning of this journey I still walk, I wanted only to make my marriage a little better. When I realized it would involve dismantling the walls I’d built around my heart, I was terrified.
As the walls faded away, they were replaced by something even stronger and better—a real marriage, held together by real intimacy.
My husband is always there. I no longer have to think about counting on him; his presence is so much a part of the fabric of my life that I count on him without even being aware of it much of the time.
The benefits of intimacy have surprised me many times—especially during times that highlight the contrast between my marriage then and my marriage now.
Intimacy has brought me comfort, freedom, and joy—and I never feel alone anymore.
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