Several factors played a role in my long-time resistance to sex in our marriage—mostly my premarital baggage, my insecurity and low self-esteem, and my feelings about the things that Big Guy said and did.
I’m going to let you in on something: those factors are still at play in my marriage.
Even after I know the benefits of tending to the sexual intimacy in our marriage. Even with a useful set of strategies for feeling sex and nurturing my desire for my husband. Even after having made a ton of progress in my journey to become a spiritually mature Christian.
Even now, the old habits and thoughts try to reassert themselves.
With God’s help, I have shed most of that. I have accepted His forgiveness for my sins of the past. I know that my identity and worth are found in Christ. I have compassion for my husband and know that his words and actions are not intended to hurt me, and I have learned not to let my feeling have free reign in my life.
Most of the time, my new habits assert themselves. I rarely have to even think about responding to my husband from a place of love and spiritual maturity. The good habits have become my automatic responses.
But the habits and thoughts from many years of struggle are still with me.
They are the things I think when I’m tired or preoccupied. They are the reactions that had become so automatic that even now they feel instinctive (even though they are not). They are years-long habits that laid down a well-worn path.
Last month I spent several weeks in a row working very hard on a new project, and it took a physical toll. I ached from hours spent at a computer. I had low energy from not being wise about my nutritional needs. After several weeks, I didn’t have a lot of mental energy left, either.
Worn down, I was responding to Big Guy automatically, without much thought.
The thoughts and feelings swirled up inside me. He doesn’t really love me. He doesn’t care about my needs. I’m just a prop in his life. He only values me for sex. At one point, the muscles in my eyes twitched the beginning of an eye roll.
In my weak and worn out state, the old habits and old thoughts tried to assert themselves. They tried to take root again.
As soon as each negative thought ballooned in my mind, it floated away. The eye-roll twitch turned into a smile that reached my eyes.
God did so much more than help me change my habits and thoughts. He transformed me—and “us”—so much that those old habits and thoughts simply cannot take hold any more.
The old doesn’t fit with the new at all. Our relationship is so different that when an old thought resurfaces, there is no place where that old thought can even land.
The new version of “us” has no place for the old habits and old thoughts. Old habits and thoughts try to reassert themselves, but they don’t take hold because they simply don’t work in this new version of “us.”
For so long, I thought God’s work in our marriage had been about changing how we think and what we do. It turns out that His work was transformative in deeper ways than I’d realized.
Our marriage is completely different than it used to be—not just on the surface, but all the way through.
Big Guy and I will both have times of weakness, when our old thoughts reassert themselves. It’s nice to realize that these old thoughts just won’t work anymore because we are such a new version of “us.”
God is indeed the Great Transformer.
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