Our Journey Towards Healing
This is the story of our journey towards healing. I hope it will encourage you to put your hope in Christ.
My amazing bride and I have been married 15 wonderful years. I am blessed beyond belief to wake up every morning next to my best friend. Christ has strengthened and kept us through everything life has thrown our way.
Early in life we were blessed with wonderful resources on marriage and how to serve one another like Christ. However, we never got more than basic information about sex. I think that our MB was very average in almost every way. We enjoyed love making because we shared a strong foundation of trust, but because I am HD and she is LD there was always a tension.
About a year ago, the tension in our MB began to cause more noticeable problems. Because of our overly full schedule we were both exhausted all the time. My HD caused me to desire sex more often as an outlet for release and connection. I would ask her every night if she wanted to make love. Surprise, her being low drive, her answer was no. I felt rejected and unloved. She felt like all I ever wanted was sex and nothing she could do was ever enough and would ever satisfy me. In almost every other area our marriage was wonderful, but this caused us both deep lasting pain.
I remember laying in bed for hours at night longing for release through intimacy with her. I had to fight back thoughts of bitterness that attacked my mind constantly. I had to fight to not grow cold towards her in the rest of our marriage. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt such consistent spiritual attack in my life.
There were days my heart hurt so much I struggled to get through work. How could my wife be so cold towards me? Doesn’t she know how big of a deal this is to me? She verbally says she loves me but shows almost no interest in me. How can she love me but have little to no desire for me? I was still working hard to be very romantic. I was spending time focused on her and helping her relax, not just going straight for sexual touch.
It just didn’t work. She wasn’t interested. What is so wrong with me?
On her side, she deeply loved me but was just uninterested in sex (about once a month, when she would let herself relax and get aroused, she really would enjoy sex, but the rest of the time she just allowed it to happen for me). She felt like sex was the enemy. She felt a deep wounding every time sex even came up. It caused relational friction and put a wedge between us. The pressure to perform overwhelmed any delight in intimacy for her. I desperately wanted more because I felt so rejected and that pushed her further away emotionally. I am married to an incredible woman and so she’d still let me make love to her once or twice a week, but her heart wasn’t in it. And it was still emotionally painful for both of us.
We spent many nights talking for hours and beginning to share how we each felt. Too often it ended in us just crying and holding each other at 2am. I was trying desperately to want sex less for her, and she was trying to give me more so it would be enough for me. But in the end, with both of us compromising beyond our comfort zones, we were still not close to meeting in the middle. We simply couldn’t find common ground.
Breakthrough came as I sat one day talking to my pastor. I could find no easy solution, but I knew I could not continue like this. It hurt too much. I couldn’t change her so I could only change me. That day I decided that I loved my wife more than I loved sex and so I would just give up my rights and desires for sex. If my very desiring her sexually was painful for her, then I would stop. I deeply love my wife and in Ephesians 6 Christ calls me to lead her towards holiness. I embraced Christ’s call to die to self in Luke 9 and Galatians 5. I embraced Christ’s call in Philippians 2 to put the needs of other above myself. I gave it all up NOT with a self-righteous, pouting attitude, but with a desire to grow my wife towards Jesus and towards healing.
In that moment, God healed me. It is by far the most miraculous healing I’ve ever received. He gave me the strength to genuinely find joy in serving my bride and leading her towards wholeness and healing. He took away the insatiable burning I felt when I laid next to her in bed. Like in Romans 12, when I offered my body as a living sacrifice, he renewed my mind. When I took my eyes off my ‘rights’ and what ‘she owed me’ and instead focused on loving and building her up, I found a deep satisfaction in serving my wife.
I sat my bride down and told her that I loved her and was going to stop pursuing her sexually altogether. I was still going to pursue her romantically, but with absolutely no expectation that it would lead towards LM. I said that I would joyfully make love to her whenever she was ready, but that she should feel no pressure. I wanted her to be healed more than I wanted sex. I told her that I would give her as much time as she needed. I hoped that one day we could return to me pursuing her, but only when she was ready.
On top of that, I asked her forgiveness for not shepherding her heart well in this area of our life. I had allowed my desires to selfishly overshadow her tender heart.
She said ok and thank you and didn’t say anything else. Most of the conversations in those days were just me sharing my heart and her listening but not saying much. I was pretty sure she was just wondering whether I was full of hot air and how long this would last.
Jesus is so good. He strengthened me to follow through. The next few months were hard as I struggled to walk in the freedom Christ had given me. However, it was nothing even close to the pain and anguish I felt before. I had died to self and Christ had healed me. I found joy in serving her through giving her romance without sex. I still longed for her, but Christ had taken away the unquenchable burning. It didn’t overwhelm me like it once had. I found peace in putting her needs above mine.
For the first time, we began to move towards healing.
Another big change happened around that time. I began to research sex. HA! Actually, I began to binge podcasts for hours on end. The Lord allowed our house to have serious plumbing issues so I spent the better part of 2 weeks mostly alone digging up the back yard and replumbing the house, so I had plenty of time to listen and soak in what God said. All of the sudden the lights began to come on. When I heard people describing in detail the very issues we faced I was dumbfounded. They would use, almost verbatim, the phrases that had not only been attacking my mind on a regular basis, but we had both said to one another. We were not alone!
I learned that God didn’t make men and women the same sexually. It’s not that my wife didn’t love or desire me, it’s that I have a spontaneous desire and she has a responsive desire. Who knew that even existed!?! The Lord created her to approach sex completely differently than I did. As I began to pursue her heart in her way, it began to heal some of her wounds and she began to respond more to me.
The Lord also began to reorient how I viewed the relationship between him and sex. Yes, I was reaffirmed in my belief that God created sex for our joy and intimacy. But more than that, I saw God as delighting in our love making, even in our orgasm. I began to verbally pray about sex with her (which still weirds her out), and ask him to heal our marriage bed.
Another huge revelation I had (that I will more fully explain in another post) was that the vast majority of our pain and suffering came from our misunderstanding / misapplication of God’s ways. If his heart is for our joy, then his words and ways will lead us towards fullness of joy. As we seek him and his ways, he will renew our minds and move us towards healing.
Today, we still have a long way to go but are back to neutral. We are not deeply wounding one another on a regular basis. She smiles at me during love making which rocks my world. What a difference.
We have begun to very slowly have more conversations and go through J Parker’s devo. They are still difficult and painful but they are oh so slowly moving us in the right direction.
I pray that the Lord will help her breakthrough in her core beliefs about sex. She still somewhere underneath views it as dirty. She still struggles to separate it from pure animal desire. She has not yet embraced the joy of intimacy. Arousal is still a mountain that must be overcome. She still doesn’t fully view pleasure as a gift from Christ that he delights in. But I fully believe that when the Lord flips that switch in her mind, that the other pieces will fall into place.
I pray that the Lord will continue to strengthen me to die to self. I need to continue to put her needs above mine. I need to not get stuck in my selfish desires but joyfully serve my bride. I need to continue to move very slowly as her heart changes. I have a deep desire to both flourish and to be creative in our LM beyond vanilla missionary. But it must go at her speed as she is ready. I need to shepherd her heart well. I need to gently but firmly lead us towards conversations that will allow healing. Above all, I need to lead us to seek Christ together.
I hope that if you are struggling in your MB, that you will continue to hold tightly to Christ as your lifejacket during the storm. He is there and weeping with you. He will hold you. He will see you through it and strengthen you as you abide in Him. I know that Christ doesn’t promise to fix it how we want. But he does promise to walk with us through the valley (Psalm 23). He does promise to bring us joy in the midst of suffering and develop in us the heart of Christ if we let them (Heb 12:1-2, 1 Peter 5:10, Rom 5:3-5, James 1:2-4). He does promise that all these things, even when we can’t see it, are working for his glory and our good (Rom 8:28-30). He promises to give us a way to stand up under temptation (1 Cor 10:13). He promises that his grace is sufficient for us and that his strength is perfected in our weakness (2 cor 12:8-10). And he promises that one day we will be completely healed in heaven (Rev 21:3-5). He will wipe away every tear and we will see that it was absolutely without question worth it to hold on to him for dear life. In that day we will see clearly how he was working in and through us every step of the way.
And don’t miss this, in the meantime, he promises that in our suffering the Holy Spirit himself is directly praying to the Father for you (Romans 8:26-27). What an incredible thought that God is praying to God for you as you struggle to keep up hope!!
Oh beloved don’t give up. Keep fighting to not let your heart grow cold and distant. Every day is battle. But success comes when we continue to win tiny little moment-by-moment victories. Success comes as you abide in Christ and allow him to bear fruit through you (John 15).
Last, I can not put into words the depth of my thanks to you. Being here and reading stories of success have encouraged me in my darkest moments. It reminded me that Christ does in fact want my healing and will walk with me through it. It reminded me that Christ is still in the business of healing other couples and would lead my family as well. I would not have the marriage I do today if it were not for you and your ministry.
Thank you beloved.
Thanks for sharing. I honor you for your humility and willingness to sacrifice so much. God gives grace to the humble and He will also direct your path.
I offer this with caution, as I don’t know you or your DW. While I encourage you to continue to pray and work for healing in your DW’s life, I also urge you to understand that she also needs enlightenment in her view of herself as God’s daughter and in her role as your wife. In addition, hold high the value of her growing in truth and in understanding so that she can live in freedom and learn the generosity of gracious living. It likely is true that healing is urgent now, but learning and growth shouldn’t be set aside. Unless healing is the only thing that is needed, I believe that learning and growth also bring about amazing transformation. I would say you are an example of that!