I remember the first time I took my daughter into a toy store. She was around eight years old (yes, I had avoided the experience for as long as possible), and we were buying a birthday gift for her friend. We went to the Glorious Aisle of Barbie Dolls—you know, the one that is all pink and smells of vinyl?
My daughter went a little nuts. Deprived of the toy store experience for her whole life, she was stunned. Her eyes got big. Her jaw dropped. I think I might have seen tears of joy form in her eyes.
She had never seen so many Barbie dolls before! She had always been quite content with the Barbie’s she had, never knowing that there was so much more available. She had to go look at each one, take it off the shelf, imagine how that doll would interact with the ones she already had in her room, and choose outfits for them all. She saw houses and cars and kitchens, all for Barbie. She’d had no idea all this was actually available.
I let her explore a bit, and then I reminded her that we were there to choose a gift for her friend, not for her. Naturally, she wanted to load up the cart and take a bunch of Barbie’s home for herself.
I have to admit, there was part of me that was thinking about my own childhood Barbie’s and how much they would have loved the new version of the dream house. I briefly considered getting her a new Barbie and outfits, thinking of how much she would love them—but I knew that the next time we were near a toy store or even the toy aisle at the grocery store, she would expect that I would get her another new toy she wanted. Plus, I was thinking about our budget and the other errands we needed to run. It was better to say no now and wait for the next gift-giving occasion for her than to give in now and have to deal with “Mommy, please?” again and again and again.
Husband Gone Wild
Many of us who have begun to work on sexual intimacy in our marriages have observed the same phenomenon—only instead of a child looking at a selection of toys, it’s a husband looking at a selection of all the possible sex acts he can think of that he would like to enjoy with his wife.
A husband who has had little access to the sex life he has craved may have no idea how to contain his sexual joy (not that he should have to) once he is allowed to release it. In the past, he may have suppressed a great deal of his sexual desire in response to what he thought his wife would accept. He really wanted sex every other day, but he told his wife he would be okay with once a week because he thought she might agree to that frequency. He really wanted to know what it felt like to have her mouth on his penis, but he tried to be content with her touching it with her hands and maybe an occasional kiss. He imagined different outfits on his wife, thinking how much fun it would be to unwrap her—but he accepted that he should learn to be happy with the one pink negligee she consented to wear for him on special occasions.
Not knowing these things might ever be available to him, he mentally set the desires aside, maybe not even sharing them with his wife. If he didn’t think about it, maybe he wouldn’t feel like he was missing out on something.
Imagine how he feels when his wife says, “Honey, I think it’s time we go to the toy store together. I’ve kept you away from the toy store for so many years, but we’ll go shopping, and we’ll put some things in our cart and bring them home to play with together.” (You do know I’m talking about sexual activities here, not going to an actual store, right?)
He goes into the toy store, and with the eyes of a man who finally has the freedom to think about all the sex that is available in his marriage bed, he goes a little nuts. He may even have tears of joy in his eyes.
He sees the same things he’s enjoyed for years, but instead of stocking up on a lot more of those than he’s had before, he goes right past them to the fancy stuff. He looks up on the top shelf and sees something he heard about years ago. He never actually thought about doing it before, but now that his wife has brought him into the toy store, the idea comes back to him and he puts it in the cart.
He looks at all the different outfits, and he goes wild. Pirate! State trooper! French maid! Sexy nurse! He throws all the costumes into the cart.
Because he remembers that he is shopping for a gift for his wife, too, he sees the aisle of things for her. He tosses in a few vibrators, a funny g-string with an elephant on the front that he can wear for her, a can of chocolate whipped cream, and temporary tattoos that say “Do Me” or “Treasure Trail” or “This Way for Fun.”
The Shopping Cart Overfloweth
He is so excited by everything he sees that he just can’t contain himself. So he goes through the store, tossing everything he sees into the cart.
Meanwhile, his wife is slowly pushing that cart that has begun to overflow. She is so overwhelmed by all the toys that she is just trying to look at the ones at eye level. She wants to get more of what they already have and maybe a couple other things from the same aisle. She looks at her husband, who is practically climbing the shelves to get to that thing she never even heard of up there on the top shelf.
Her husband keeps tossing things into the cart, and it’s everything she can do to keep the cart from toppling over. She wonders if it was a mistake to come to the toy store with her husband. She wonders if they’ll still get to play with the things she already loves or if he wants to push out all their old shared play activities and replace them with these new ideas. Maybe it would have been better to stay out of the toy store altogether.
She is nervous—and her husband keeps climbing the shelves and tossing things into the cart. She even hears him say, “Hey, this motor is cool!” She wonders if he remembers that she is there in the store with him.
Why, Why, Why?
If you have begun to make sexual changes, you may find yourself with a husband who wants to go a little overboard sexually. So you’re standing there with your overfilled shopping cart, shaking your head, wondering what on earth is going on.
If we really get all this stuff, won’t he want to come back and fill up with all sorts of other things? I’m not sure I can handle that. And why is he trying to buy everything in the toy store, anyway? Why can’t we just get what we need and then leave?
First, he is excited! He has been wanting to go to the toy store with you forever, and you’re finally there—and it was your idea! This is the best thing in his life, and he just cannot contain his joy. Everything he has ever thought about doing with you is now a possibility. He doesn’t want to contain himself because he finally doesn’t have to contain himself.
Second, a man who has felt sexually deprived may want to load up on everything as soon as possible. If he is concerned that the “new you” might not last, he is likely to think he needs to stock up on a lot of sexual experiences while he can. If he doesn’t experience those things now, he worries that he might never get to experience them with you at all. If you are fairly new into your journey of sexual change, this might be what’s going on with your husband overloading the cart at the toy store. He thinks this might be the only time he ever gets to go into the toy store with you, and he wants to make it count.
A third reason for his exuberant shopping may be a bit more subtle: your husband has begun to feel sexually safe with you. After years of trying to suppress his sexual desires because he didn’t want to offend or upset you, he now knows that you accept him and love him as he is. He trusts that even if he makes a request that he’s pretty sure is way outside your comfort one, you will still love him.
It’s a Good Thing
These are all good things, even though you’re still going to be standing there trying to keep that cart from tipping over. Your husband has begun to recognize that something is different. Your efforts are bearing fruit. Your husband has begun to heal. In showing you all the cool things he wants to get, he is allowing himself to become vulnerable with you.
He trusts you with his sexuality and with his deepest desires. Many men say that their sexuality is a core part of their very being. Sharing that with you, revealing desires that he might have kept silenced for so long, is a sharing of his innermost self.
It is a big deal.
While it is easy to be overwhelmed by that overflowing shopping cart, make sure that you add some items in, too—even if it is just a variation of all the things you already enjoy playing with. That shopping cart is not just for your husband. It’s for you, too, and your play time at home isn’t limited to your husband’s selections.
Of course, you should feel free to climb all those shelves and grab items that catch your attention. If the shopping cart falls over, it’s no big deal. You can just get another cart. If you aren’t ready to reach up to the top shelves, at least challenge yourself to reach one shelf higher than you’re used to. It’s good to stretch yourself a bit.
The trip to the toy store is for both of you, after all. Enjoy the shopping, and enjoy the play time.
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In case you were thinking this post would be about, well, toys, here are posts from few other Christian marriage bloggers about just that: