Four years ago, I was beginning to see that our marriage was not at all in a good place. My husband and I were having another argument about sex. There were so many arguments, with each of us on opposite sides. It’s your fault. No, it’s yours. You need to change. You’re the one who thinks it’s a problem so you need to change. Back and forth, we went, pitted against each other.
I was hearing in my own head the script that I didn’t deserve a happy marriage and was being punished for my sins before marriage. I looked at my husband. I got halfway through the thought He hasn’t been perfect, either, so he has no right to complain when several things occurred to me at once:
- My husband shouldn’t have to be punished for my sins.
- Even through my own hurt, I could see that my husband was hurting, too.
- We were both very lonely people in our marriage.
I looked at my husband, sitting in his chair, looking at me with his sad, sad eyes . . . and for the first time in years I saw him as someone in need of love and support instead of as my enemy.
Suddenly, I realized that I had just switched sides. Instead of being against my husband, I was on his team. We were on the same side.
My Husband Isn’t My Enemy
Big Guy and I each had placed the burden of responsibility for our sexual problems entirely on the shoulders of the other person.
We each wanted to maintain the illusion that we were right and the other person was wrong. We had drawn a line in the sand, and neither of us was willing to cross it to be on the same side.
My sexual refusal was fully my sin—but the relationship problems on which I built my sexual refusal belonged on my shoulders and my husband’s alike.
We were both responsible for the problems in our sexual intimacy. Both of us could have made different choices along the way. I could have made a decision to not let my feelings interfere with our relationship. My husband could have made the decision to lovingly confront me early on instead of letting things slide in order to keep the peace.
I didn’t understand right away what it meant to be on my husband’s side, nor did I have any idea how to actually be on his side . . . but I had left the black-and-white version of our marriage to live in the gray area.
My journey of sexual change has involved learning to own my sin. I have also had to learn to see my husband’s sin without using it to justify my own.
My husband sins not because he is my enemy. He sins because he is human, a sinner, just as I am.
A Change of Perspective
Crossing the line in the sand made all the difference in the world. I began to look at our problems differently.
When I had thought of my husband as my enemy, I saw sexual activity as a loss on my part. I was caving in, giving in, or losing a battle. He wanted something I didn’t want to give; when I gave, he won.
Score one for the enemy. It was black and white. Me versus him. One winner. One loser.
When I crossed that line in the sand to stand with my husband rather than against him, I saw something different—sex is an essential part of what holds a marriage relationship together. As I was part of that relationship, sex therefore benefitted me. Sex was for us, not just for him.
The effort of just one person made a difference because it was effort for the team and not for the individual.
Black and white merged into gray. Me versus him became us versus the Enemy.
Learning to Live in the Gray Area
Choosing to be on the same side as my husband wasn’t easy. I had to be willing to see my own sins and mistakes as clearly as I could see his.
Viewing a spouse as the enemy seems easier because it means we don’t have to work on ourselves at all. My husband had done things that hurt me. It was hard for me to be vulnerable enough to engage in sexual intimacy—but that did not absolve me of the responsibility to try to do so anyway.
Both spouses make mistakes. Both spouses sin. Both spouses hurt each other—but neither spouse is all right or all wrong.
Once I stopped seeing my husband as my enemy, God gave me the desire to want to work on our sexual intimacy. Furthermore, a fully intimate marriage is one that includes spiritual intimacy as well as physical and emotional intimacy. Full intimacy draws us closer not only to each other but closer to God as well.
Sexual intimacy strengthens a one-flesh relationship in a way that makes it very hard for a crafty Enemy to drive a wedge into a marriage.
To Conquer the Enemy
The Enemy continues to try to drive a wedge into our marriage, just as he does in all marriages. Big Guy and I have faced some very difficult challenges during the past year, and we have a few unresolved situations just waiting to pounce on us. These challenges have shaken us as individuals, and we have to hold fast to keep them from weakening our marriage.
The Enemy was effective in using sexual intimacy against our marriage for years, so that is an area where we have to stand especially firm.
We sometimes start to fall back into the bad habits developed during my sexual refusal. We have to be vigilant always to guard against this. Sometimes one of us isn’t interested or is just too tired. If it’s been a while since we’ve been intimate, I tend to feel awkward, thinking Wait, I forgot how we’re supposed to do this.
Those are the times when I close my eyes and pray for a hedge of protection around our marriage bed.
Out of the corner of my eye, I sometimes see the Enemy throwing a temper tantrum worthy of Rumpelstiltskin.
And then, on his belly, he crawls away.
This is the final of three posts about the Enemy of Marriage.
Image courtesty of xandert/morgueFile.com