What Did I Know, and When Did I Know It?

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV

I was asked today, “Before your change, did you know, somewhere inside, that it was wrong to say no so often?” This followed two weeks of being asked variations of that same question—publicly, in private, by strangers, and by my husband.


So when the question popped up in a blog comment this afternoon, I had to laugh. Some questions come from out of the blue, but not that one. I’ve been thinking about it for two weeks. Well, actually, I’ve been thinking about it for a couple years. I responded to the question, but since I’ve continued to think about it, I thought maybe I would say a bit more.

It seems like it should be a simple question to answer. Did I know I was wrong to say no?

“Wrong” is a tricky word for me. I grew up in a family and church that didn’t talk about sin or being wrong. Or I would hear things like “that isn’t God’s best for you” or “What would Jesus do?” I’ve never had a good inner barometer of wrongness. And the Bible, well, I got good at treating the Bible as a buffet, picking and choosing the verses that best supported my own views.

So did I know it was wrong to say no to my husband? No—but here’s what I know I did know when I was refusing:

  • Saying no hurt my husband. I admit that sometimes, I was pleased about this. I remember a couple times when that was my intention. I wasn’t out to get him as much as to make sure he remembered that I was hurt. I shouldn’t have to hurt alone, I thought.
  • Saying no was hurting our marriage. Sometimes I cared about this, but not always. I figured that if the marriage was meant to be, we wouldn’t have developed the problems with intimacy—so the fact that we were having problems became proof in my mind that God hadn’t wanted us together in the first place.
  • Everyone else would probably think it was wrong to say no. By “everyone else,” I mean everyone within the scope of our lives—our parents, our friends, people at church, even my colleagues who scoffed at the idea of God and rolled their eyes when I mentioned having gone to a church program.
  • God would think I should have sex with my husband. I remember once thinking, in a Smothers Brothers “you always liked him best” kind of way, “God, you made Adam first so you’re on my husband’s side.”
  • Although I sometimes complained in general ways with other women about our husbands’ interest in sex, I never told anyone I said no. If anyone had asked me, I wouldn’t have admitted it. If I’d ever accidentally admitted it, I would have downplayed how frequent it was. In fact, many of my friends thought I was sex-crazed. I was. I had a high level of physical desire for release—but my emotions and self-entitled hurt were so powerful that this desire was suppressed much of the time. One of my friends told me that in ten years of marriage, she had never denied her husband because her first marriage fell apart due to intimacy problems. I didn’t apply her wisdom to my own marriage, but I did learn that maybe it wouldn’t be seen as okay to do what I was doing. I never told a single soul that I ever said no to my husband. Even online, where no one would know me, I never told anyone until well after I’d stopped. I didn’t even realize I was ashamed.

All these things should have told me that saying no was wrong. Even aside from the big one—that God would think I should be having sex with my husband—I should have known.

But I didn’t know. In my mind, one thing trumped all: my husband had hurt me emotionally (it was largely a communication issue at a time in life when I was already pretty raw from some transition challenges). I thought it was unreasonable for anyone–even God–to expect me to have sex with a man who hadn’t apologized and wasn’t willing to let me talk about feeling hurt. I completely believed that saying no was justified and that everyone who would think I should say yes (including God) just didn’t understand.

I could not step out of my self-centered way of viewing everything that affected me. I was immature. I was childish. At the time, though, all I felt was misunderstood and hurt. So I can’t say that I knew I was wrong. I knew it was hurtful. I didn’t know it was wrong, because I could see my saying no only within the context of my emotional state.

I knew I had the power to make our sex life better. I knew that if I would just stop being so resistant to sex, much of the tension in our marriage would dissipate. But I saw that as caving in and suppressing my own feelings. That was not okay in my book. I knew all those things, but I didn’t know it was wrong. I knew it wasn’t God’s best, but I didn’t know how to step out of my own cycle of hurt.

I even knew what I needed to do in order to change our sex life. I needed to be more engaged while we were in bed. I needed to initiate sometimes. I needed to pay more attention to my husband’s body.

The problem was this: I didn’t have any idea how to do any of this, and I wasn’t convinced yet of why I should. I wondered, How do you get past feelings of hurt and justification? How do you find the courage to make the first move when you have so much time and energy invested in learning to deflect and cast blame? How do you begin to change an attitude? How do you change your heart? How do you make yourself even want to do these things?

I feel like I’ve grown up since I started making changes. I still have self-centered tendencies. I still let my emotions color my actions. But I have finally begun to give up childish ways.

Did I know that it was wrong to say no so often? I honestly don’t think I did.

But I do now.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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35 Comments on “What Did I Know, and When Did I Know It?”

  1. I felt justified in my “refusing” years… and what’s scary is there were times that I knew I was wrong and sinning, and I just didn’t care. I’d rather sin then “give-in” to my husband. “God will forgive me.” was probably some of my thoughts, but I had some major pride going on.

    Once things started getting better, and I moved more into “gate-keeping”, I didn’t realize I was wrong then. Because I was giving in to my husband in the bedroom more then I really wanted to, I felt like we had hit a “compromise”. I thought we were good and “meeting in the middle”, because I was having more sex then I wanted even though my husband wasn’t have near what he wanted.

    1. So much of my resistance was about not wanting to give in. Why does it become easier to think of ourselves as playing on the opposite team rather than the same team? One of my mental shifts that has fascinated me is how I now have a feeling of my husband standing beside me facing something together rather than him facing me.

  2. Fascinating… as always.

    We live in the present, and in the present, we always think we are right. It’s not until we are looking back to the past that we realize that we were wrong.

    It’s good to remember that even when we are certain, there is a good possibility that we could be wrong.

  3. Sex is so frustrating! I am fully aware that it’s wrong to say no, and yet I do. We are together at least once a week, sometimes twice, once in a while more, but truth be told every time I am with my husband it’s only because it’s his need. I’m definitely having more sex than I want to, and yet we’re still not having as much as he’d like. He’s still dissatisfied which is so hard for me to hear, because I’m trying. Once I can make myself “give in”, I give 110% to make it as enjoyable and satisfying for him as I know how.

    Sadly, I’m just not that interested. The struggle is to “make” myself do something that I don’t want to do. Sex is just not something I really enjoy. My heart is broken this morning because I couldn’t make myself give in and now there’s tension between us. Unfortunately whenever I refuse, he becomes very grumpy… which doesn’t help at all…. because now I have to “make” myself have sex with a grumpy man. Hardly a turn-on but It’s the only thing that will break the ice. I wish, wish, wish I shared my husband’s interest!

    I hate that sex is a source of tension – it always has been for us. For 26 years, it has been pressure and manipulation on his part, and refusal and gate-keeping on my part. And yet, I don’t think either one of us wants it that way. I don’t know how to make the vicious cycle end.

  4. Oh, dear. I understand those feelings. For me, part of changing the pattern was finding ways to think of sex with my husband as enjoyable. I spent time thinking about loving him and how I was glad there was something I could do for him. I thought about my friends who don’t have husbands to hold them and how nice my husband’s arms were. I asked him to help me warm up and relax by giving me a non-sexual backrub. Those were the kinds of things that helped me at least not feel opposed to having sex. And every time I enjoyed it for me–even if that enjoyment was just about emotional closeness and not physical release–it made it easier for me to approach the next time.

    Once you do get into it, is it easier to be genuine and not feel like you’re doing it just for him? If so, you could always walk into the room naked and say, “Honey, you know I don’t feel like having sex. But have your way with me, and I’ll get there.”

    Have you ever found sexual activity pleasurable for you? Are you able to experience orgasm? I’m wondering what would happen if you would just agree that you will have sex every single day and that on at least one of those days, you would like it to be about your pleasure. When we have a years-long habit of sex being just for him, it’s easy to develop shortcuts that get him there faster (so we can be done more quickly)–but that happens at the expense of our own relaxation and sexual enjoyment.

    The way to stop the vicious cycle is to pick just one small thing to do differently and just do it–stop saying no completely, or look him in the eyes while you’re having sex, or get more involved with kissing or touching. Just one thing. Do it for yourself as well as for your marriage and your husband.

    1. I am able to orgasm…every time. But, for me that isn’t what “satisfies”. The times that I have felt satisfied are the times when I have given the gift of myself to my husband – not because he was standing there “tapping his foot”, or when I am serving as a relief mission for his physical frustrations – but because I’m wanting to be with him but as a result of feeling so emotionally close to him (feeling loved and cared for) that I desire to be physically intimate as well. I feel satisfied when physical intimacy is an outward physical expression of the feelings building up inside me – when it’s an emotional release in a really good way. His high sex drive leaves very little opportunity for sex to be about anything other than physical release for him. Our sex life is very focused on the physical aspects. I am with him as an outward expression of love for him, and of concern for his physical (and emotional) needs. I know it’s important to him – and it’s what I agreed to when I said “I do.” But, it’s rarely an expression of me feeling so loved and cared for that I just need to express that somehow…. Do I make any sense at all?

      1. Yes, it makes sense. Have you shared this with him, to help him understand what kinds of things help you feel emotionally close enough to be able to desire this for yourself as well as for him?

        1. Wow, you’re quick to reply!

          Yes, I’ve shared with him. We have great discussions. After we talk he always resolves to “do better” to meet my needs but never really puts action to his words.

          The foundation of our relationship was built upon meeting his sexual needs. (I have always had low self-esteem so I think I complied because I didn’t want to say no – I didn’t want him not to like me.) Back when he was in college, I used to drive to seem him for the weekend. If we hadn’t had sex by Sunday afternoon, he would pressure me into having sex with him before I left… manipulation through guilt. Many years ago, after I had our first child I had a “nervous breakdown”. His job transferred us away from our hometown, and then they sent him out traveling. He was gone 7 out of 9 weeks. I was isolated and exhausted. When he was finally home to stay, I crashed. I was physically unable to take care of my own self (or my baby – had to send him to a babysitter) for weeks – I couldn’t even take a shower or eat. My husband was frustrated with me because I was unable to meet his sexual needs. He said, “What about me, how do you think I feel?” He looks back now with regret for what he said. But in reality, if we faced the same situation again I’m not sure it would be any different.

          He has had his testosterone levels checked and he does run a little high. I imagine his drive is affected by that. It seems his desire for sexual release clouds his better judgement sometimes. Makes it hard for him to hold back pressuring or manipulative comments… probably just as challenging as it is for me to “make myself” be with him.

          Again, I don’t know how to change this vicious cycle because my “need” is to “not feel expected of” – it’s to be free to give the gift of myself as a gift and to be valued as a whole person and not just as a sex partner. I don’t want him to tell me my butt looks good in those pants, I want him to compliment me on being thoughtful, or generous, or helpful, etc. Even though he tells me I am free to say no, there are consequences. He becomes very grumpy and the pressure just grows.

          (p.s. Thank you for the conversation. It helps to hash it out sometimes. I appreciate any suggestions or observations. I really want this area of our life to be peaceful and be pleasing to God – it’s been a struggle for so long…)

        2. I’m heading out to my county fair now, but I want you to know I’m going to be thinking about this and see if I can come up with any suggestions and a response for you. Would your husband be willing to let you teach him or remind him of the kinds of things it would be helpful for you to hear? Obviously, prompted compliments aren’t what you want, but perhaps if you can focus on helping him get into the habit of doing what you need with your help, it will be easier for him to transition to doing it on his own. Is your husband willing to be teachable if it will make your marriage more joyful for both of you? Meanwhile, if you haven’t done so already, go get naked for him now so he’s less grumpy for the day and he can feel loved.

        3. Had to chime in here – tho I have 20 less years of experience, I felt like I was reading my own thoughts in your thread. I had to learn to hear my husband differently. That the comment about my butt in those pants that made me angry was actually him saying I love you. I am committed to you. I think you are the most desirable woman I ever met. And I had to pray for God to help me hear that through my filters – the filters that heard that comment as I am horny and you are the only person I am allowed to relieve that with. My husband meant so much more than that. The following link is actually my question from several months ago and the peaceful wife’s reply. Might be helpful to you. Later, once i had been consistently in my acceptance of hubby, one night he truly gave me the option to say no and i felt he meant it. And giving the gift of myself with no pressure has been amazing. And improved my attitude leaps and bounds. But God wanted me to trust Him first i think. http://peacefulwife.com/2013/03/01/i-feel-like-a-piece-of-meat-to-my-husband/.

        4. Dear M,

          Your translation of, “Your butt looks great in those pants”, is right on the money. It’s a comment that is meant to flatter our wives and let them know that we love and desire them. It amazes me that our wives could attach such a negative connotation to such a loving comment. Now please don’t think that I am dismissing your feelings. On the contrary, now that I know, I need to filter my comments and see them through a different lens. It feels like I am trying to learn a new language. The same words are interpreted so differently by husbands and wives. I am grateful to the Forgiven Wife and all who comment to offer up their translation services. We husbands are clueless and our wives have such high expectation. I need to go now and warn the others…

        5. Bluemoon, have you asked your wife how she hears those words–and what words she would like to hear from you? One of the things I asked my husband to do at one point was not to stop saying the words that came naturally but to also add a translation so that I could hear in my own language, too.

        6. I can relate to this: “the filters that heard that comment as I am horny and you are the only person I am allowed to relieve that with.” The phrase “I’m horny” became one of my hot buttons. My husband would say this, and all I would hear was “my penis needs some release.” I felt completely irrelevant. After a time, my husband used that phrase because then he could tell himself that my rejection was because of his word choice rather than what he really felt, that I didn’t desire him. Even now, after almost three years of my husband never being refused, I occasionally have a visceral reaction when he says that. Fortunately, I stop myself in my tracks and can now say, “What a coincidence! So am I!”

        7. I like what you said about having hubby add the translation. What I often did was stop and say honey this is what i heard when you said that, please tell me what you meant. Now I am better at hearing the intent and he is better at choosing words I hear easier. Good process for both of us.

  5. I wish my husband could see this blog post because I am the higher drive spouse. He is nine years older and we were both older (30s and 40s) when we married. He blames a diminishing sex drive, so we only have sex when it’s “convenient” (i.e. he’s not tired, or the morning’s wide open…maybe once a week). It would be such a gift to me if he would ask for sex. He is, in every other way, doting, loving, and regularly tells me he loves me and says I’m sexy. But he cannot seem to understand how deeply wounded I am by his refusals and never asking. And it’s not even that I enjoy it very often when we do have sex — I have vaginismus (pain) and generally do not orgasm — it’s more that I desire to be desired, physically desired. And also that I want to enjoy that intimate and sacred part of marriage that was off-limits before. I know many women would prefer to be in my shoes and have a husband who never asks, but this is not an ideal scenario. It’s been frustrating and an emotional struggle. So if there’s something I can lend to this conversation, I guess it would be to emphasize that for some, sex is deeply intertwined with a need to feel desired, not necessarily a need for release. But this is just one solitary female perspective. I pray we have have greater understanding and compassion in this area.

    1. You are not the only wife experiencing this. In addition to all the things husbands experience when they are refused, women also have to deal with cultural stereotypes of men wanting more sex than women. It hurts–to not be wanted, to have your husband turn away from you when you undress, to feel like an imposition. Has your husband ever had his testosterone levels checked? Before my husband began his low T treatment, I was on he receiving end of refusal at times (quite a role reversal). It might not be the answer, but it’s worth checking out. And for the record, even when I was refusing, I wanted my husband to want me. It still mattered that he desired me.

      1. I can’t get him to go in for an annual physical, let alone… :-). He doesn’t see testosterone as an issue, just sort of an inevitable result of getting older. However, I will suggest he have that tested if he sees a doctor. Thanks for the suggestion.

        I was a virgin on my wedding day; he was not. It’s a bit of a sensitive issue for both of us. I feel like I’m missing out.

        Thanks for your post!

        1. Testosterone levels are checked by blood, not by other tests. 🙂

          My husband didn’t think T was a problem, either, but it was. I’m on hormone therapy, too. Just because it’s part of getting older doesn’t mean we can’t improve our quality of life by treating it in some way.

          And I wasn’t a virgin when we married. I feel like I’m the one who has missed out on something huge. I regret that I was not able to share that with my husband.

      2. FW: “And for the record, even when I was refusing, I wanted my husband to want me. It still mattered that he desired me”.

        Indeed a very surprising statement! Why on earth would you want that?

        1. I was just as surprised that I wrote that as you were to read it! I suppose I wanted for the same reasons a refused spouse wants to be wanted (feeling, loved, desired, etc.), with the exception that I didn’t want it to lead to sex.

        2. Precisely! I felt the same thing- I would beg for my husband to stop with the suggestive glances, sexual innuendo to every question I asked and the groping. And he would stop- for about a week- and I would feel lonely and rejected. Now I realize, I did want him to want me, to feel loved and desired. Mostly I just needed him to take a gentler, more subtle approach that made me feel like it was more about us together than him and his needs. These days we have found a pretty good balance of what comes naturally to him and what feels better to me. And isn’t that why God made us different? So we would have to reach out and work at accepting and meeting our spouses needs/preferences. It pushes us out of being so “me centered.” I am blessed to have a hubby who realized as I moved away from gate-keeping that there were things he could change to make my changes easier and more permanent.

        3. Dear M,

          This thread has my head spinning. Women are so confusing….One could easily misinterpret your actions as wanting to be desired…just not by their husbands. Ouch! Sigh…

          I know you are talking about the past and you mention that your dear husband discovered, “that there were things he could change to make my changes easier and more permanent”. Would you be so kind to share one or two things that we husbands could do to enable our wives to grow in our marriage?

        4. That didn’t come out quite right. I should have said “enable growth in our marriage…

        5. My husband’s biggest help and change was changing how he communicated with me. He would often “tease” me- about the house, about something I was doing with the kids, about a choice I made. It was all in fun and often he would follow up with “just kidding”. For example- say I politely asked him to change our daughters diaper.. he would respond with a big grin and say uhuh that’s your job. And then he would change the diaper, bc he doesn’t have any problem doing it. And I appreciated his help, but the verbal flip-flop in the middle always left me feeling insecure about asking, unsure if he truly didn’t mind help.. I was always concerned about the half truth in the jabs… call me over-sensitive or whatever you want, but 75 of those interactions a day and I was emotionally exhausted. To be clear Hubby is an awesome helpful loving guy with no intention of being cruel or rude in this area, but it wore on me badly.

          I didn’t realize what a toll that was taking on our intimacy. We knew sex was an issue… had been for a long time (mostly due to physical pain for me but that’s a whole another story). I had spoken to him about the teasing in the past but he maintained it was part of his personality that I was trying to squash and I accepted that.

          Then in counseling with our pastor 6 months ago, I hesitantly brought it up for discussion. The pastor shared Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, THAT IT MAY BENEFIT THOSE WHO LISTEN. (emphasis mine). And he said- bottom line, it doesn’t matter if you are just kidding.. what matters is what your wife is hearing. And he said to my husband.. you stop all teasing remarks, all of them no matter how innocent, and it will change the atmosphere of your home completely in a month. It was SO hard!! My hubby would fail and be so frustrated and want to give up.. but he stuck with it (mostly to prove Pastor wrong I think :P). Pastor was right- our home is utterly different now, and the transformation has been fascinating- the far far reaching effects of that communication style (now that it’s gone) have been stunning.

          Once I stopped wasting all that emotional energy on the way we communicated, once I felt safe and didn’t mind being vulnerable, even just to ask for a hand with something before was hard… 6 months into this experiment I pretty much match him in the bedroom and we are laughing together. (I wasn’t very fun before). The fun didn’t go out of our communication- it’s just a different kind of fun. We talk more, I feel like I can have a serious conversation where I am heard and we can debate the merits of a topic. I had no idea it was going to free me the in the ways that it has- to be myself, to be kind, to hear him differently. But I am no longer in defense mode all the time and it’s wonderful. All along the way I have been seeking God, praying and making changes but this change in my husband really sealed my resolve and eased my efforts.

          So really long story to say examine how you communicate with your wife is crucial to her well-being!! – Is it uplifting? Is it putting pressure on her? Is she hearing your heart or do you need to express it differently? Is what you say beneficial to her? It’s not all about you but in my experience this made a huge difference.

        6. The key, I think, is learning about your own wife. Pay close attention to how she responds to your words and actions. If you notice her tense up after you say something, stop and ask her what she is thinking or feeling. Ask if there’s a different way you could express your love for her. Of course, I think marriages benefit when we all pay attention to our own responses and try to identify negative patterns. Pay attention to your wife, but also, perhaps, if there are certain phrases you frequently use, see what happens if you make a point of using different phrases.

  6. I feel I need to chime in, even though I’m a newbie here. Coming from a marriage where, for nearly fifteen years, my husband (and I, to a great extent) thought that it was my job to always say yes, I can say–unequivocally–that saying no isn’t always sin. Sometimes it’s the right thing to do.

    It comes down to whether or not you’re hurting someone else, and whether or not you have problems or hurts of your own that need addressing before intimacy can be healthy. I know my God. He loves his daughters, and doesn’t expect us to do anything that we’re uncomfortable with. Intimacy in marriage is the expression of ultimate trust . . . of ultimate vulnerability. There was only once early in my marriage when I said yes when I should have said no–and it left such a cold, wide breach between my husband and I that I vowed never to let that happen again.

    Reading Anonymous’s comments just about made me cry, because I understand where she’s coming from all too well. I KNOW God works miracles anywhere and everywhere. But the deep, essential need of a woman to be treated gently and kindly by the man that she gave her heart to doesn’t give him a free pass to use her selfishly. If a woman is able to give herself freely, even when her husband only wants to take from her, I would love to know her secret, and if her ability to do that has changed her husband’s behavior, or enabled it further. Like I mentioned–I only gave in once when I really and truly knew I couldn’t give myself freely, and it felt like whoredom. What was supposed to be beautiful and fulfilling left both of us empty and distant.

    Saying no, and working through why, has been the answer for us. That draws us closer, closing the emotional rift , often bringing us close enough for intimacy after all. It’s saying no to punish, and then continuing in the punishment by not talking and not repenting, that’s sin. Reading “M’s” comment brought tears to my eyes because she hit on the head–hard–what the root of so many problems in marriages are. And I have SUCH a hard time just accepting that it’s the wife’s job to allow her husband open access to the most private parts of her body regardless of how he treats her the rest of the time. That seems so abusive to me. And yet, that’s how it’s applied. Yes, lip service is given by many to the fact that husbands should love their wives the way Christ loved the church. But honestly, I’ve never seen that given nearly as much emphasis in any forum as I have the unconditional submission that is preached as the wives’ part of that deal.

    When I get to the other side, I’m going to have a sit down with Paul and find out just what it was that he really meant when he wrote that letter . . . and if he feels any differently now.

    1. To me, the sin is not in the occasional “no” but in chronic refusal such as I was doing. You’re so right about the importance of working through the “why.” You say, “He loves his daughters, and doesn’t expect us to do anything that we’re uncomfortable with.” The key here, I think, is to understand why a woman might be uncomfortable with something. If it’s just something outside her comfort zone, then perhaps she needs to work on expanding the size of her comfort zone. If the discomfort comes from fear, then that is what should be addressed.

      My refusal developed out of trust and communication problems. Had we been able to deal with those issues early on and develop tools for addressing relationship problems as they arose, I doubt that the refusal would have developed as it did. It’s wrong to do what I was doing. I remember one time when I said “yes” when I absolutely shouldn’t have because deep raw hurt. The act of sex requires a woman to take a man into her body in a very intimate way, and my husband and I both suffered from that sexual encounter. If a woman is unable to say “yes” because of his emotional abuse, then clearly that needs to be addressed. The deeper problem is staying in a state of refusal without attempting to solve problems. In my case, the problem was in my heart.

      I imagine a lot of people will be wanting to join that sit-down with you and Paul.

  7. Pingback: Lost in translation - Romantic Husbands
  8. Interesting discussion. For me, it is more about what I did NOT know. I did NOT know sex had such an important emotional component for my husband. I did NOT know that regardless of the numerous women about whose beauty he so openly commented, he wanted ME. I assumed he preferred masturbation while fantasizing about these women. I did NOT know that I was anything more than the one for whom he settled and a way to avoid temptation. I felt used and I was over it. Due to all these misconceptions and misunderstandings, I did not feel I was wrong.

    Regarding the sit down with St. Paul, I wonder if the specific instructions we read in Ephesians are meant to address the behaviors that do not come naturally given our design/wiring. One’s gifts, when overused, become obstacles.

    Wives are instructed to respect their husbands because this does not come naturally for women. This is not to say, though, that husbands are not called to respect their wives. A woman’s natural talent for noticing details, articulating her thoughts, connecting with her emotions, etc., can lead to behaviors that make her husband feel disrespected. Also, for a woman at the time of Paul’s writing, when she might think herself “all that” were she the first in her household to embrace our faith, these instructions were especially important.

    Husbands are instructed to love their wives, not because wives don’t need to love their husbands, but given a man’s design, this does not come easily for him. A man’s tendency to say “your butt looks great in those pants” may not be heard as “I adore you and want to feel close to you.” Again, at the time of Paul’s writing, men had undue power over women, and needed to be reminded not to misuse it.

    Wives are instructed to submit to their own husbands, not because a husbands should not submit to their wives, but because a woman tends to be distrustful. The parts of our brains that ruminate on negative thoughts, worry about things, remember encounters, etc., can lead us down a dangerous path.

    Men are instructed to lead, not because a woman should not exercise her leadership skills, but because men tend to step back and let others take responsibility. Conversely, women may tend to do too much (gee, isn’t there a book by a similar title), and overextend themselves in the process, leaving little energy for their marriage and upsetting the balance in the partnership.

    The analogy about a man and woman fitting together like two puzzle pieces doesn’t fit for me. Relationships are fluid. We grow, bloom, adapt, learn, hurt, forgive, rejoice. Thank you, Chris, for helping us with your thought-provoking posts.

    1. Why do you assume I had no desire to be intimate with my husband?

      First, in my view at the time, intimacy was an emotional and spiritual connection. I didn’t see sex a genuine factor in building intimacy.

      Second, I did want to be sexually intimate with my husband. At a certain point in our marriage, I was no longer able to understand how that would look. I had built up hurt and resentment for things my husband did. I didn’t know how to get through that hurt in order to be sexual with him.

      In other words, the fact that I had a different view of what intimacy was and that I lost the understanding of how to be sexual with my husband was in no way a reflection of my desire for intimacy.

      On the surface, it looked like I didn’t desire intimacy with my husband. But the surface did not show the truth.

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