I’ve been in a fine funk lately.
A year of fairly constant stress caught up with me and been compounded by a challenging bout of seasonal depression and the approach of crunch time at work. I think my hormones are starting to be weird, too. Oh, and I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet.
My fine funk is actually not such a fine thing. I have been controlling, snappy, selfish, and irritable for weeks now. At times, I’m so unpleasant I can’t even stand to be around myself. I haven’t been like this in quite a few years, and I don’t like it.
As I’ve been in prayer asking for God’s help in conquering this mood, He has shown me something: although my current state has absolutely nothing to do with sex, God is using all the work I have done on sex to help me get through this.
As I began to work on the sexual intimacy in our marriage, I developed habits that are helpful to me now.
- I remind myself to take deep breaths and not respond immediately. It was the thing that helped me move past my habit of saying no to sex all the time, it helps me speak carefully now.
- I developed a habit of recognizing my unreasonable behavior and responses and apologizing as soon as I did so. I find that even now when I’ve forgotten to take a deep breath and haven’t managed to keep my words to myself that I am able to catch myself in the middle of a sentence, apologize to my husband, and then go on to speak more thoughtfully.
- I’ve always had a habit of talking to myself. When I was changing my approach to sexual intimacy, I used this habit to help me focus on truth rather than on my feelings. I use that habit now to help me remember that my husband loves me, that God provides for me, and that joy can be found even in difficult circumstances.
These habits pay off as I try to control my words and actions.
The process of working on sexual intimacy taught me a great deal about myself, God’s presence in my marriage, and the blessings that come from following God’s truth.
- An important lesson from my work on sexual intimacy is that I can conquer anything with God’s help. Even in my most snappish moments, a quick “God, please help me” brings me peace and a kinder tone. I am frustrated that I am in this funk, but I know that working on it and seeking God’s strength and guidance will lead me back to where I need to be.
- When I rise above my feelings to act as I know I should, I am always glad that I did. With sex, I when I thought about the truth that sex was important to our marriage and that I should nurture the sexual intimacy in our marriage, it was easier for me to say yes even when I wasn’t feeling in the mood. Every single time I acted in response to truth rather than to my feelings, I was blessed in the effort. That is no less the case now. I often feel like telling my husband to leave me alone because he’s been insensitive (translation: I want him to leave me alone because he’s in a good mood and it reminds me how grouchy I am). However, when I take a deep breath and remind myself that he loves me and that my feelings should not be in charge of my actions, it is easier for me to speak in kindness and love. I am always blessed in that effort. Those are often the times when I get the deepest emotional connection or most loving support from Big Guy.
- Shared struggles strengthen intimacy. When my husband and I face a problem together, we grow closer. We learn each other’s hearts more intimately, and our lives become even more enmeshed with each other.
- Sex heals. When I am feeling disconnected from my husband, sex reconnects us. The sex that used to add to my stress now relieves my stress. When I feel especially unlovable, sex replaces that with feelings of being loved and wanted.
These lessons have enabled me to face my funk with the knowledge that I will get through this and that my marriage will come out of this in a healthy state.
Consequences of Sex
More than anything, God has been showing me how the efforts to address sexual intimacy have improved my marriage. My irritability is in an entirely different context than it used to be, and importantly, Big Guy is better able to deal with my funk than he used to be.
- My marriage is so different than it once was. When I used to get into a funk, I would blame my marriage. My marriage wasn’t great and my husband was always after me about sex or angry about something, so I would point fingers at Big Guy and relieve myself of any responsibility for pulling myself together. My marriage is good now, and I know I am the one who needs to do the work.
- Big Guy knows now that he is loved, making it easier for him to be the husband I need now. Even as he points out to me where I am out of line, he knows that I believe he loves me. He knows that he can speak truth without concern that he will push me away. He knows that helping me get control of myself will not cancel out the possibility of sexual connection for the next week. He knows that when I cry or start snapping, what will most calm me down is the feeling of his arms wrapped around me in a hug. He can do that for me because he knows I won’t push him away or interpret it as touching me to get sex.
- My marriage has become a sanctuary for me. I don’t like ruffling the feathers of our marriage or our marriage bed, so my motivation to get on top of this is pretty high. Furthermore, I know I can ask my husband for help. Despite my long-time difficulties with trust, I now trust my husband. I completely trust that he is not going to stop loving me because I am in a temporary state of unlovability. I trust that when he says, “it isn’t easy to be around you right now,” it comes out of his love and care for me and not because he is trying to control me.
I need to know that he cares about me and my feelings, and because of what our marriage has become, I know those things quite well.
This “fine funk” isn’t any more fine than it is fun. However, as difficult and frustrating as it is, I know I am well prepared to get through this.
It is easy to look at my work on sexual intimacy and be able to point to how the sex in our marriage is so much better. That was an obvious result. When I began that work, though, it never occurred to me that God would use it in so many other ways to help me grow.
Useful habits, important lessons, and a marriage of intimacy have made this funk a temporary state rather than a foreshadowing of the future.
God was with me as I worked on sexual intimacy in our marriage. He is just as much with me now.
Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me–everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9
Image credit: Yeah, that’s me in that picture, in my lovely funk. Just keepin’ it real, folks.