During my gatekeeping years, I often thought of Sarah. Yes, that Sarah. Mrs. Abraham. Sarai.
There were far too many nights when I found myself so turned off by the thought of sex that I found myself wishing my husband would just have an affair so he could take his sexual demands away from me. I am ashamed to say that there were times when I spoke this wish aloud to him.
And then I would think about Sarah. I imagine that unable to bear children, she felt like many of my friends feel during infertility struggles: less than a woman, broken, abandoned by God, unworthy. And she gave her handmaid Hagar to her husband.
I’ve often wondered what that was like for her. What was it was like for her to watch her husband go into a tent and know that he would know another woman in the way he had known her? Did she wonder if her husband’s eyes would light up at the sight of the younger woman’s breasts? Did she wonder if he would make the experience pleasurable for Hagar? What did she do with herself while he was in the tent? And could she look him in the eyes when he came out?
I would think of Sarah, and I would wonder what it would be like to send my husband in to another woman. As much as I told myself I hated sex, I couldn’t bear the thought of my husband’s eyes shining as another woman disrobed for him. I couldn’t bear the idea of another woman seeing my husband’s face at the moment of orgasm—the face that was mine alone to see and hold.
I denied my husband the sexual connection he had promised to have only with me, and many times I would find myself wondering how to find another woman for him. And then God would open my heart to the story of Sarah, and I would remember that I could not truly share him.
If God could open my heart and mind to Sarah on occasion and remind me that I could not share my husband, why was I so stubborn that I didn’t make the next step and give him what he’d been denied? Perhaps Sarah’s story was what kept the thread spinning between my husband and me, tenuous though that thread seemed at times.
When I was ready to open my heart to being a different kind of wife, Sarah was in the back of my mind as I moved forward. I thought of the choice I had in front of me, and I thought of the choice I’d almost made. And moving forward, my heart broke for Sarah just a little bit.