Every time I write to women about the value of saying “yes” rather than “no,” I wonder if I am perpetuating the false idea that sex is mainly for men. Saying “no” to sex hurts husbands and damages marriages, but that isn’t the only reason to stop. The reason to stop saying “no” and learn to say “yes” isn’t just so you can say “yes.” It’s because “yes” is a necessary ingredient in building a great marriage—and a great marriage is what I really want for women.
This is a journey to the Land of Joy—and Yes is on the way to Joy.
I am so glad that J wrote this post at Hot, Holy, & Humorous yesterday.
She described the role of sex in marriage this way:
“Sexual intimacy is an ingredient in the cake. It’s essential. . . .
If you leave sex out of marriage, things don’t taste right. Something is missing in the intimacy a husband and wife can truly have. You still come out with something, but it’s not good cake. Even slapping some icing on top won’t rescue a cake without egg or sugar inside.”
In other words, she says that marriage is the cake, and sex is one of the things that makes that cake a cake.
When you bake a cake, you need to have all the ingredients together in order for it to turn out right. Once you have the ingredients, you still need to do some mixing and baking. And then you need to add some icing (unless you’re J—or my father-in-law, in which case a couple scoops of ice cream on the cake will suffice).
I want all women to have yummy cake to enjoy with their husbands.
Most of the time, what I write about here is how to prepare your cake batter—where to find the ingredients, how to measure them, techniques for mixing them together (you know, cream the butter and sugar together before adding the dry ingredients), and so on.
If it’s been a long time since you’ve baked, or if you’ve never baked at all, the process of preparing cake batter can feel awkward. So I offer suggestions:
- Set your butter on the counter to soften for at least an hour before creaming together with the sugar.
- Measure each ingredient into its own bowl before you begin, just in case you get distracted because you’re trying to bake at the same time you’re making dinner.
- Beat the eggs together before adding them to the creamed butter and sugar to make the mixing in a bit smoother.
- Mix the dry ingredients together before adding them to the wet ingredients to ensure a more even distribution.
If you are new to a journey, or if it’s a path you haven’t walked in years, the way can be confusing and even scary. Suggestions from others can ease the way:
- Think head about where you’re going, but . . .
- . . . look at the path right in front of you, paying careful attention to where your feet go.
- When you get out of breath, stop and just breathe for a while. Take a refreshing drink from your water bottle.
- Know that your legs will feel both weak and strong at different parts of the journey. Some parts of the path will be steep and going up, while other stretches may be all downhill. Rest and stretch when needed—and then keep going.
If it’s been a long time since you’ve been sexually comfortable with your husband, or if you’ve never felt that way, the process can feel awkward. So I offer suggestions:
- Think ahead about how you’re going to respond before your husband initiates sex.
- Focus on just one step at a time.
- Take lots of deep breaths in order to make the adjustment feel calmer.
- Take time to build comfort and confidence in each step before moving on to the next one.
As long as you follow the basic instructions, there isn’t just one way to approach baking a cake (you don’t have to measure out all the ingredients ahead of time just because I do). As long as you follow the instructions in the Bible, there isn’t just one way to approach building or rebuilding a marriage. You prepare the batter in whatever way works—but if you want to end up with a cake, you need all the ingredients.
One of the main ingredients of a joyful marriage is “yes.” If you’re a refuser, you will be missing a main ingredient.
I encourage women to stop refusing so they can become bakers. You can’t be a refuser and bake a cake at the same time.
Stop refusing—not to make your husband happy, but because you can’t get to the Land of Joy without learning to walk through the Land of Yes.
The Land of Joy
I walk with women from No to Yes—but only so they can keep moving into Joy.
Withholding sex is a barrier to the journey to a wonderful, awesome, joy-filled, Godly marriage.
As I reflect on my own journey, several milestones stand out:
- The moment I realized how “no” had been hurting my husband.
- About a year after I’d been living in the Land of Yes, when I realized from reading posts written by other Christian wives just how much more there was beyond where I was.
- When I was finally able to ask my husband what more he wanted and he trusted me enough with his sexuality to be able to ask.
- The incredible intimacy of the moment I fulfilled his request.
- When I finally asked for something for my own sexual pleasure.
Leaving the Land of No was the beginning of my journey, not the goal.
Stand in front of it. Close your eyes and look into your heart. Have you been withholding sex from your husband by saying “no,” pre-empting the question, or imposing conditions on sexual activity? Do you find yourself wanting to answer these questions with a, “Yes, but he . . . . “?
Imagine yourself looking into his eyes. Set aside your own hurt for a moment to allow yourself see the hurt that is in your husband’s eyes.
Open your eyes and look into the looking glass. Do you see a refuser staring back at you? What does the woman in the mirror need to do in order to step away from her sin and be the wife God calls her to be?
If you have hurt of your own that is part of your refusal, then work on it—and keep working on it, even as you take your first steps into the Land of Yes.
Leave the land of No—for your own sake. Sexual pleasure is yours to share and enjoy with your husband. A healthy and happy sex life is part of what God wants for you, not just for your husband. But you can’t have that when you live in the Land of No or when you leave out an important ingredient.
Baking Your Cake and Eating It, Too
Moving past refusal is important—not because the goal is to be able to mix the cake batter together, but because the goal is to take the next step and bake the cake.
When you refuse, you add bricks to the barrier between yourself and your husband, between yourself and the marriage you could build, and between yourself and God.
Is this journey hard? It can be. It has been hard for me at times, and I’m not all the way to the end of the journey yet. When I began this journey, it was because sex was what my husband wanted. The earliest steps were for him. When I looked into the mirror, all I could see through the fog of my own tears and frustration were my husband’s sad eyes. I never imagined that this journey out of the Land of No would become a journey that was just as much for me.
This journey that began for my husband has brought our marriage, and me, closer to God with every single step.
Look again into the looking glass. See yourself as you have been and as you are right now.
Now, close your eyes. Imagine yourself, at the end of the day, sitting in the Land of Joy, eating that cake with your husband.
It is delicious.
JOURNEY INTO THE LOOKING GLASS
- Part 1: Who Do You See?
- Part 2: To Have and to Withhold, from This Day Forward
- Part 3: The Cake, the Journey, and the Land of Joy
Image credit | Christianpics.co