During our years of little sex, bad sex (yes, I do think there is such a thing), arguments about sex, and arguments about everything else because we were so disconnected from each other, there were days when I just wanted one thing. I wanted my husband to care for me without a motive (read, expectations of sex).
If he unloaded the dishwasher, I assumed he wanted sex. If he carried the dirty laundry to the basement for me, I assumed he wanted sex. If he looked at me, I assumed he wanted sex. He probably did want sex, but that wasn’t why he did those things.
More than anything, I wanted to know that he loved me just for me, not for what I could do for him. I wanted him to think about what I needed before I asked for it. I wanted him to care for me when I was sick. I wanted him to spend 15 minutes a day with me without any TV or computer, without any sex—just time for us to talk. When I got him only during commercial breaks, I felt unimportant. When sex was part of the equation, I felt like he didn’t care about my heart, only about a certain other part of me.
I prayed for God to show me that my husband loved me for my whole self, not just for my sexual self. It’s been a long time since I’ve prayed about that. In fact, I’d forgotten all about this prayer that had lasted years.
The past two weeks have been sexually parched. There’s been some activity, but it hasn’t been very fulfilling for either of us. He was sick all week with his cold and hasn’t been able to breathe comfortably. Yesterday, I realized that I had caught the cold and am in for the same thing this week. We’re both worn down and feeling yucky.
I’ve been concerned that I might feel some disconnection from him because of the sparse sexual activity between us—but I’ve realized I’m seeing him through entirely different lenses now. I’m no longer sensing the sexual desperation that was there in everything he did. I’m no longer seeing his actions through the lens of my own guilt. I’m seeing just him, and his heart for me.
I’ve made a point this week of working to maintain the feelings of connection that usually grow through sex. Every day this week, I’ve asked for fifteen minutes of his time, just to sit next to each other and share our days. I’ve been processing an emotional landscape this week, and I’ve needed to just be with him so I know everything will be okay. And it is.
I slept very little last night due to my stuffed-up head. This morning, my husband took one look at me and told me I was staying in bed today. And he put together a tray for me—cream of wheat, coffee, juice, my favorite sugar cookie from my favorite bakery, and a bottle of NyQuil.
He is caring for me when I am sick. He thought ahead to the fact that I would need NyQuil before I even thought about it. He knew how much my favorite cookie would mean to me. So I took a picture of the evidence of his love for me, tray perched on my legs. (You can see a bit of the obnoxious flame-print pajama pants I “borrowed” from him several years ago.)
As I took this picture, I remembered my years-long prayer. I’d spent so much time feeling hurt and unloved, assuming that everything my husband did was out of sexual desperation (a desperation that I now know was caused by me), experiencing my own emotional desperation, praying for what I wanted more than anything in our marriage.
When my prayers about our marriage became prayers for our marriage, and for my husband, the desperation we’d both felt faded away. I began to try to be the wife I had promised I would be, all those years ago in front of God and our families. I prayed for us and for him, and not for me.
And today, on a tray perched on my lap, God reminded me that although I’d been praying the wrong prayer for all those years, He’d still been listening.