Learning to Receive

I’ve come a long way in my journey to a better version of my wifely self. I’ve changed a lot of habits that damaged my relationship with my husband. He and I are both happier now, and our marriage is stronger than it’s ever been. But my journey isn’t over yet.

I’ve been feeling full of intimacy and one-fleshness with my husband, so it is really frustrating when I experience a roadblock or realize that I’m still stumbling over something.

My  husband is generous with himself. When his body doesn’t seem to cooperate, he always asks me how I’d like him to help me finish. Even when his libido doesn’t show up at all, he offers some just-for-me activities. After all the years I withheld intimacy from him, it humbles me every single time that he does this.

But I am not comfortable accepting this generosity. Sometimes, he’ll just come into the room and start something for me, without any attempt at something mutual. In this situation, I have no problem going with the flow. He seems to want to do it for his own sake, and I’m perfectly content to lie back and let him give and give and give.

However, when he offers to finish things up for me after he has fizzled, or when he simply isn’t interested for himself but offers to do something for me, I don’t know how to say, “Yes.” I feel selfish and demanding when I am the sole recipient, and I simply don’t know how to accept what he offers.

So I posted about this on an online forum, not sure what feedback I wanted or what I would get. What I got was correction. It was pointed out that I was turning down my husband’s blessing; I was gently reminded of Peter refusing to let Jesus wash his feet.

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” — John 13:8

“You have no part with me.” That kicked me right in the gut. After all my thinking that I’d let down all my barriers with my husband, I was reminded that I must accept his service if I am to feel truly united and part of him.

Receiving is humbling. I always feel shaken and vulnerable when I am on the receiving end of true giving. It strips away all the veneer and my illusions of being worthy and valuable…makes me feel very naked spiritually. I hadn’t realized I was still withholding something from my husband, but it turns out that I was.

The next night, I had an opportunity to apply this lesson, not by receiving but by giving.

I had promised my husband oral sex to completion. Normally, that would involve some return “servicing” of me. But I remembered that I learned that I’ve been withholding part of myself from my husband, so I knew it was important to approach this prayerfully.

So there I was, completely without clothes in front of my husband…and I knew that I should make myself naked in another way as well. Instead of cloaking myself in our mutual responses, I decided to focus on simply ministering to him. I realized this wasn’t something I had done before. Although we’ve had many just-for-him sessions in the past as I lay mostly passive, this was the first time I was truly and actively giving to him, thinking only of his pleasure and nothing of my own.

It was stunningly beautiful. Although I was blessing him, I was the one who came away feeling blessed and humbled. The whole time, I was aware of what a gift it was to be able to give to him this way. When he finished, I was so overwhelmed that I had tears streaming down my face. (My poor husband thought maybe he’d hurt me.) And then I knew what I deprive my husband of when I say, “no, thanks.”

This all happened just three weeks ago, and I am doing better at receiving my husband’s gift. But it is a humble reminder that I am still very much a work-in-progress. I’m in the middle of a journey to somewhere. At least I am on the journey with the man God has given to me instead of trying to find my way alone.

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3 Comments on “Learning to Receive”

  1. My ex-wife not only would say “no, thanks,” but would also accuse me of being selfish in attempting a just-for-her activity. Very frustrating. Good for you in learning to enjoy receiving.

      1. Ha. Yeah, that kind of thinking — always attributing an evil or selfish motive, especially when it came to sex — drove me nuts. I loved your line in another post that *the marriage* needs sex. Not sure if it would ever have mattered, but I never articulated it that way.

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