A couple years ago, I mistakenly thought my marriage had completely recovered from the damage my years of gate-keeping and refusal had done. After all, we were having sex frequently, I was initiating as much as my husband was, and I had learned to let go of a lot of the hurts in which my gate-keeping and refusing had grown.

Mostly, I measure growth by the changes I see in myself. After all, I’m the one I’ve been working on. I know I have come a long way, both in my marriage and in my relationship with God.

The journey now is easier. It isn’t nearly as hard as it used to be, and success in some areas builds confidence in others. However, I also see reminders of the journey I still have ahead of me.

Sometimes, I see absolutely no signs of new growth at all. And then, within a short span of time, I encounter both a reminder of an area that is not yet healed and a milestone that shows how far we’ve come.

Healing Is Needed . . .

Several weeks ago, I wrote about realizing that Big Guy is still learning to trust me. It was a reminder of how much damage my sexual refusal had done to him, even as it showed me what I need to pray about for him. I was a little disheartened, but God was there to show me what I needed to do with this reminder.

Sometimes I wonder what permanent damage my refusal caused my husband and our marriage. I am sad about the years of sexual freedom with each other that I wasted, and I think of the depths of emotional intimacy we could have now if I had handled things differently.

I figured that some windows of opportunity have been permanently closed. My husband and I are no longer in youthful bodies, after all, and we both spent a lot of years feeling alone in our marriage rather than unified.

Even with some sexual opportunities lost, perhaps, my husband has said that he is sexually content now, I’ve figured that he was as sexually healed as he’s ever going to be. I’ve been grateful for that, even as I’ve had moments of grief for the opportunities we will not have.

. . . and Some Healing Is Complete

A few days after showing me that my husband’s trust in me is still in the process of rebuilding, God blessed me with a milestone that hadn’t even occurred to me.

Throughout most of our marriage, my husband knew better than to wake me up to ask for anything sexual. First, I don’t wake easily and prefer the hour-long snooze alarm process for waking up. Second, sleep is precious to me. Any time I perceived my husband’s disregard for what I was doing, it would set me off. Not only would he not have gotten any sex then, I would have worn that hurt around my neck like a big “don’t you dare touch me” sign for days.

Twice in the past year, I have woken him up for sex—something neither of us thought I would ever do—and he has been generous and accommodating. The fact that I asked was a major sign of my own healing.

I have told him that he can wake me up if he wants. He told me he didn’t feel comfortable doing that. I didn’t bother to wonder why he didn’t feel comfortable, and it didn’t occur to me that it was a sign of a place that had not yet healed.

To my surprise, just a few days after I wrote about my husband not completely trusting me, I was shown very clearly that his sexual trust in me truly is healed.

For the first time in more than twenty years, my husband woke me up for sex. He shook my shoulder a bit and said, “Hey, do you think you could . . . ?” And I did.

He had absolutely no question that I might respond with anger or hurt as I had in the past. He had a need, and he came to me to fulfill it without jumping through the mental hoops of figuring out what the asking would cost him or wondering whether it was a good idea.

He felt completely safe. He sexually trusted me.

The knowledge that he felt safe in waking me up for sex overwhelmed me, especially since I was still feeling a bit raw from what I had written just a few days earlier.

God showed me both a reminder and milestone within a few days of each other.

Reminders and Milestones

The journey to a sexually healed marriage can take time for both husband and wife. Many of us are discouraged when we work to change ourselves and all we see is signs of how far we have yet to go.

There are times when it seems that we are just treading water rather than getting anywhere—especially when we just get started. We don’t even know if our efforts are the right ones; we just know that these efforts require all our attention at times. We aren’t even sure what progress would actually look like or how we will know if we’re on the right path.

God will show us the milestones. He will show us signs of healing—in ourselves, in our husbands, and in our interactions in marriage. We just need to pay attention.

Take heart in all the milestones:

  • when your husband finds the courage to ask for something new,
  • when you step outside your comfort zone for the first time,
  • when he makes a sexual advance at a time of day that you used to set as off-limits,
  • when he touches your arm and you don’t tense up,
  • when you take a deep breath and then say “yes,”
  • when you wear a nightgown and no underwear to bed for the first time in a decade,
  • when you find yourself smiling because he watches you undress rather than glaring and covering yourself up,
  • and when he wakes you up for sex.

Continue your efforts to grow as God shows you your path—but pay attention to the milestones. Be encouraged, and know that healing is happening.

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6 Comments on “Milestones”

  1. I really enjoy your wonderful posts. I was the wife who never said no. I had my own reasons (also called baggage). Because of you and others on these sites, I now see that my baggage turned into blessings, for us. I could not have realized, at the time, that being sexually available to my husband (no matter what) made for a great marriage through the years. The hardest time was staying awake during the nursing and diapering years. I’m glad I never said no. I just stumbled that way due to my own baggage. Go figure!

    If your words today speak to a wife who has been setting limits on intimacy with her husband, then it’s all worth it. All it takes is small consistent steps for positive change. Keep on, keeping on. 🙂

    1. Baggage affects us in unpredictable ways, doesn’t it? I’m so glad that yours led to a great marriage. I am so thankful that my husband isn’t one who carries around the past. It has made it easier for us to celebrate what we have now instead of having to drudge up old stuff. He has made my healing easier for me than it might have been.

      Just one step after another!

  2. When I read this there where a couple of different thoughts that came to me.

    First, God’s redemption. His redeeming power is an amazing thing. Don’t you think that all the great men and women of faith in the Scriptures (Old Testament and New) regretted their failures and wished they could go back and change them? YET, look at how God used them! Look at how their lives were changed and how their changed lives, influenced and changed others. They saw their need for a Savior, and because they did, they were able to share with others the gospel message, to give comfort, and to have compassion, grace, mercy and love on others, because God first showed them those things.

    This is the same with each of us. Those of us who fail (which is all), just need to learn to acknowledge our failure, repent and profit from them. When we have done that, we are profiting greatly…starting with a changed marriage (or any other area of life). Then we are able to go and testify to those around us of how God worked in us and it profits others. It’s really an amazing thing when one sits and thinks about it.

    Secondly, recognizing that I too have milestones. I am not one who usually just sits, analyzes and dwells on things. I try to just live, I don’t look back too much and I just keep moving forward. It’s great that God has gifted you with those traits so that you can share in such an understandable way for others out there. Your list of different milestones made me realize that, “Yes! Look at what all God has done in my life, in my marriage, in my husband and I.”

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Even as I grieve what we have lost, I celebrate how God has transformed our marriage and used our mess for His purposes. It amazes me every time I think about it.

      You certainly have encountered quite a few milestones on your journey!

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