Redefining Who We Believe We Are
Over a week ago, I was unintentionally challenged (or maybe it was intentional 😉 ) to think about how I view myself. In that conversation that I was challenged, I was reminded of some facts that I just don’t think of much, if at all. Those facts threw some water on how I tend to perceive myself.
As I contemplated what was said to me, I realized that I STILL view myself as that sexual gatekeeper and refuser. I am still letting it define me. Part of why it’s so easy to feel this way is because my husband’s desire is so far in front of mine. I am constantly feeling like I can never catch up, and I never will catch up. And when I got close, he whipped around so fast in the other direction, we were even further apart. I have that constant feeling that I am failing, that I’m not enough, and I will likely never be enough. I feel that fight of wanting to enjoy where I am, but feeling it’s wrong to do so, because my husband wants me where he is or beyond where he is, because he wants to “explore” those new things together. I have had to reclaim my “no”, for my own health and therefore the health of our marriage. I have missed really seeing and knowing the freedom I have found sexually. I have missed remembering to see the gifts I have had sexually, since those pre-teen years and beyond, as something good. I have forgotten where I have actually been and how far I have come.
Guess where my husband’s adventurous, “act before you think”, “accelerator” nature puts me… as the proverbial “gatekeeper”, the “brakes”, the logic, the “dream killer” (His phrase used in other areas of life, never sexually, but it can transfer, “There are dreamers and there are dream killers. [I am a dreamer.} You are a dream killer.” 😆 ) This leaves me as the “lower”, as in actually feeling ‘less than’, spouse.
I am still trying to see myself in a different way, and to redefine who I believe I am….it was truly eye-opening and nice to get a glimpse of how another sees me. He wasn’t trying to challenge me to “be more”, to “give more”, to “do more”, to “obey more”, like so many well-meaning people have…I know I am guilty of that myself, no judgement here!…and I absolutely know there is a time and place for those challenges. But, I really am grateful to him for his directness and for holding a mirror up in my face and making me consider looking at myself differently. Thank you!
Anyone else experience this in some form or another?
What are old ways that you allow to define you, that need to be redefined?
How have you been redefined?
Oh sister…I feel ya! We have really been in a challenging place the last three weeks in our marriage, lots of stuff being drug up and it showed me just how much I am still viewing things with a broken perspective.
I was a gatekeeper, and spent most of our marriage feeling broken. I am low drive and have a responsive sex drive. I have only had an orgasm from PIV a handful of times, which I still have to FIGHT to not feel broken about. I still am afraid of sex, of being used, of being hurt, of being dirty/shameful. I am angry about sex still. My body is finicky, but the truth is that it is not because it is broken, but because I have a million rules and walls up about sex. And because I have not fully accepted my own sexuality, which is nothing like my husband’s, as being just as legitimate.
I know a large portion of that is because of the sexual and physical abuse I went through. Another large portion is how poorly DH and I did with sex starting out in our marriage, which then created a LONG downward spiral. In truth, there is trauma from our poor interactions with each other and poor approaches to sex. There is also the trauma from DH’s porn use. I still have to struggle with not wanting to do things because I fear his desire comes from seeing it in porn…which makes me feel used and not special. I am letting all of this stuff define me and control me.
I’m weary…really, really weary. Sex has been a source of pain and hurt for almost my whole life, as sexual abuse started for me as a young girl. I have been to counseling, I’m still in counseling. I feel like I am making significant progress, and then, something opens my eyes up to the next layer, and I realize I’m still letting myself live in chains.
DH asked me last week, why I couldn’t leave my broken perspective behind. It’s like stepping into the dark. Where am I going, what am I doing? What does that even look like? I don’t understand? I’m afraid
I have spent the entire 20 years of our marriage crying and hurting over sex. Not that we haven’t made progress, not that I haven’t stopped being a gatekeeper, not that we haven’t changed our interactions. But I don’t know how to put on this new identity of healed, whole, not broken.
@PPK, I understand that pressure feeling your wife speaks of… here’s my initial thought, go into the night with the same exact heart and mindset, “for her”, but don’t tell her, just do it. If you notice her getting antsy, in a firm but kind voice, tell her to lay back and enjoy or to just lay there and think about the sensations she’s feeling. Directing step by step, works better for some, rather than sharing the big picture, because that becomes overwhelming and that “pressure” floods in.
Thanks for posing this question and for sharing.
I’m very hesitant to say anything, as the nature of the things shared is so delicate and I realize that I don’t understand you and your situations. In light of that, I’d like to make some general comments.
The topic, of redefining who we believe we are, is intriguing to me. I’m glad it doesn’t say, redefining who we are. If that would be necessary I would say that is more God’s prerogative than ours.
I feel we often define ourselves in mistaken ways or allow others or past experiences to do that. When we carry those definitions with ourselves and live as such poorly-defined people, we are not being authentic. Nor are we new creations in Christ. In such a condition, how can we enjoy rightly-ordered relationships with God or others? That is, how can wellbeing, flourishing, righteousness, love, shalom, good sex, etc. be expected?
So, if there is such a thing as redefining who we believe we are (and I believe there is) it really involves changing our beliefs not just definitions, doesn’t it? We need to learn about who He made us at birth and how God sees us. And then secondly about what His salvation and life in His Kingdom do for us in restoring us. It would seem to me that those two steps will inform us in redefining who we should believe we are and how we then should live.
I have really been thinking since reading this post, and didn’t know if I would even post anything.
However, my heart goes out to you ladies. I haven’t been sexually abused, so I can’t say I understand that aspect of it, although I do understand as much as I can because I have a very good friend who suffered years of sexual abuse. And I saw what she and her DH went through. I do understand the part of being a woman and feeling broken. And I don’t like it that so many females feel this way.
One thing I don’t understand though and that is this: why do we wives feel like we are the broken ones? I asked my DH that the other day as we were having a discussion and he made a remark. I asked him why I was supposed to feel broken in this situation, when he was in it equally with me. Why wouldn’t he admit that I felt this way because of something he had done in the past, instead of suggesting I was the broken one? He sort of caught on.
I am in the process of redefining myself, as well. Thanks, SC, for putting it into words. Part of me could write a very long ‘article’ on this and the other part of me says I don’t have much to say right now, so I will stop.
One year ago, my wife began a sexual renaissance that was also accompanied by a lot of conversation about who we were as individuals and as a married couple. We dug up all kinds of stuff from our two decades together, and some stuff from our few prior relationships (we started dating at the end of high school, so those were minimal but one had impacted us more than we realized). As my wife began initiating more and showing some spontaneous desire, I was so confused. I loved it, and yet it also caused turmoil because our normal roles were upended. While there were some painful moments, the cool thing was that we basically allowed ourselves to redefine our roles and our relationship on terms that work for who we are today, rather than continuing to use the roles that had developed piece by piece over one. It would be like replacing a treehouse you built out of found boards and parts over the years with a custom built cabin built by a master craftsman. It was exciting but also scary to experience a major change. A lot of grace was necessary, and patience with each other (and with ourselves) was essential. We each prayed a lot, and confided in our close friends and sought their prayer and counsel too. I will pray for you and your husband to gain wisdom from the Lord and to see His path for you!
@Wheat48…. see…this is where i think it all needs to land (on both parties and esp. to the one who is HD because usually by default they can feel resentful, angry and questioning why their partner can’t just “be normal or be like me?”) is:
as And because I have not fully accepted my own sexuality, which is nothing like my husband’s, as being just as legitimate.
Of course this doesn’t mean one shouldn’t be in a constant state of self awareness or self examination as even the Scriptures teach that but it’s sad in terms of TMB that one even feels that way. I think we all have to accept the fact that we as male and female are different, that as individual human beings we are different.
What would you say to a husband who desperately wants to give his wife pleasure? To start slow, to keep it sensual and not sexual at first, and then patiently do whatever it takes to make her orgasm. Because she never has. Ever. Nor has it ever been a “big deal” to her. I explained how empty it made me feel, and how it made me sad that this wonderful gift of God has never happened to her.
But now she says I’m pressuring her to perform.
I told her last night, “tonight I want it to be about you”. I had no plans to have sex. Only to explore her body for her pleasure. But she sat me down (calmly to her credit) and explained that when I go to these lengths for her it just adds stress like we have a mission that must be completed.
I don’t know how to help her.
I don’t know how to get her in the mood without making her feel like I’m getting her in the mood and then shutting down.
@SongOfAngels yes, I feel guilt for needing sensual touch, for wanting slow foreplay, for needing something completely different. I feel horrible when DH goes to touch my “hot zones”, nipples, clitoris, and I’m not ready and it doesn’t feel good yet…. I feel broken. I cannot give him a formula, its different every time, but I know I need a lot of foreplay, a lot of sensual touch, or it is just stimulation, not pleasure.
But he is honest with me, he wants me to desire him. We were talking about fantasies a few weeks ago. He said his fantasy was just for me to attack him with clitoris, go after him, want him to go after me aggressively, directly. He said, “I wish you would just put my hand on your vulva, and just want me to go after you.” Now, I don’t want him to have to change who he is, and I’m not saying he is bad, but when I hear this, my heart just sinks. Why would I fantasize about him just going after my clitoris, when I know it won’t feel good? My fantasy, which I shared with him, would be more that he come up behind me in the kitchen and start nibbling and nuzzling my neck, maybe sensually kiss down my arms and run his hands up and down my sides. Because that would be sexy for me, I could receive it and it would feel good. If he came up and just started directly stimulating me, it’s not going to feel good.
It all makes me feel like I can NEVER fulfill his fantasies, because what his fantasies are is fast speed, aggressive and that isn’t going to make me feel good or get me turned on. I can go aggressively after him to make him feel wanted, and I do. Just this morning, I rolled over, put some coconut oil on myself, and put him inside me (big spoon/little spoon). I slowly rocked on him and eventually gave him an orgasm. I wanted to love him. But…it doesn’t get my body going, and I don’t know how to change that, or even if I should try (is that denying my own sexuality to be trying to change it so much, not just let it be what it is?). What would’ve turned me on is slow massage, kissing my back, nibbling my neck, caressing my thighs.
I’m so weary of feeling like there isn’t something that meets both our needs.
@SOA, I think the other party ought to be aware, and often the only way they can be is by being told, and that is a process of conversations for them to truly get understanding, not just a one-time event and “boom” that have it. Although the spouse’s actions may be part of what triggers our own feelings, they are often just being who that are created to be as well, and to say it’s “especially” on them, seems to take away from their own uniqueness and us wanting to put the same burden on them, that we carry.
I believe the greatest and quickest success is if a couple is working together as a team, but when it comes down to it, it’s really about our own thinking, our own beliefs, and our own choices. If a woman or lower drive spouse absolutely knows that their sexuality is legitimate, even though it differs from a man’s or a higher drive’s spouse, then all the other thinking flows from that foundation, and it changes how we perceive everything, including our spouses actions.
A non-sexual example is when I learned about “introverts”… wow! what a life changer that was for me. Reading article after article that describe an introvert gave me answers to questions I had wondered, or that I didn’t even know I was asking. It validated who I was, how I thought, acted, and related to others. I felt “normal” for the first time in my life, and I wasn’t this lone outsider, who never felt like she fit in fully. I had a “people”. 😉 What I came to understand about myself, truly changed how I thought and how I lived my life. Was I truly a different person? No, I was the same exact person God created. Did my husband change from his extroversion? No. What happened was I gained knowledge and understanding. The same exact person went from defining herself as an “outsider/outcast” to being redefined as an “introvert”, that redefining did end up changing things about me..it became about me becoming me. It gave my husband understanding of me and my differences from him. I live my life differently, with priorities, how I prepare and recover from things I know will drain me. I think this is similar, at least for me.
God made each of us unique, with a unique personality, gifts, and traits. We also have a sin nature that effects our life, our actions, and so on. We have a past where we did well sometimes, did poorly at other times, received love and blessing from others, and received hardship, trouble, or abuse from others. I think the way we perceive ourselves is one of the ways that the enemy traps and holds us down. My thoughts about this are that maybe what is ideal for us as Christians is to focus on who God made us to be. In other words, if it were not a fallen world, if we hadn’t done that sinful thing, if we were living the way God always wanted us to live, before the failure, before the abuse, who would we be then? After He restores us, who we will be. How much does He love us? That is how much we are worth. What did He give? That is how valuable we are. The enemy always whispers in our ear who he wants us to be and who he wants us to think we are, but we must ignore him and instead listen to our Father who loves us. We need to see ourselves through Jesus’ love. We need to root our identity in Him. We need to derive our value in Him. We need to ignore the successes and failures and the lies and the past (and I know this is hard) and live anew. We need to let go of the things we hold on to that aren’t of Him.
Everyone is different, and in terms of the marriage bed, I think the dual nature of 1 Cor 7 suggests that we should each look for what “thrills” us in the marriage bed. For one that might be something fast, for another it might build slowly to a fire. I think what is important is that both are getting their dreams/fantasies and that their spouse is investing in them. I believe a husband needs to step up to work hard to please his wife in bed, and vice versa. It gets harder when we want something for our spouse that they don’t necessarily want themselves. I wish my wife “wanted” this or I wish my husband “wanted” this is different than “I want this and my spouse stepping up to doing it”. The former wishes that our spouse is someone different with different desires, the latter is asking our spouse to meet our desire.
The struggle that many of you express and go through is heartbreaking and I pray that God blesses you with the joys of your heart. Romans 8:28.