I married my best friend when I was twenty-one years old. I was eager to be his wife and I was eager to fully express my love for him. I believed it was important to save my virginity until marriage, a personal conviction that was not always easy to protect.
As our wedding day approached, anxiety rose up in my heart as I realized I would soon be completely known by my husband, a vulnerability I had never experienced before.
As much as I anticipated uniting as one, the thought of sex made me nervous. I hoped we would naturally figure it all out, and I hoped it would be perfect. However, as the night approached and we were finally able to say yes, we faced a great struggle. Sex was painful. Sex was messy. Sex took way more time than I thought it would. So many expectations crushed beneath disappointment.
As newlyweds we tried to encourage one another as we curled up in bed that night. I thought perhaps a few more days of practice would lead us to satisfaction. Little did we know that sexual intimacy would be our greatest struggle for our first four years of marriage.
I didn’t like sex. I didn’t like that it hurt, I didn’t like that it left me feeling inadequate and broken, I didn’t like that it required so much effort, and I didn’t like that I fought thoughts of shame saying yes to it because of how adamantly I trained my mind to associate sex with the word no growing up. My mind battled sex and out of my mouth came an excuse to excuse myself out of having to do it most nights my husband initiated.
In my hurt I withheld from my husband, without ever knowing how my actions were affecting him. I was never able to see his side of the story because I was too focused on me and my needs.
Our lack of sexual intimacy crippled our marriage and intensified other marital stressors. We became susceptible to sin that broke each other’s trust. Inches away from calling it quits, God threw us a life-line. Through people at church, God encouraged us to hang on just a little bit longer. Some days we received encouragement at just the right time, when our flesh was weak and our hearts were failing.
God used so many different people to teach us about who He is and His great design of marriage – ultimately leading us to a commitment to love each other unconditionally even if the sex never worked out. God gave us hope, but more than that He showed us how to extend grace and true love to each other.
After years of heartache and disappointment God heard our prayers and healed our relationship. He also transformed our sex life! What I think about sex now is very different than when our marriage first began. Now I know what it means to my husband, know I know it is worth the effort, now I know it is a good thing and should not stir up shame, now I know the priority it should have in marriage.
Sex was designed by God. It is an intimate and physical expression of two becoming one. If you and your husband are having issues in this area for any reason at all, I want to encourage you to never stop praying over that area, and to know that loving each other unconditionally, whether you receive healing or a “fix” at all, is powerful and life-transforming.