Let’s Talk About Sex: A Ready Heart, A Ready Body


I have a life-long spiritual habit of feeling like I have to dress up for church, gloss up a bit before I get in front of a man, or straighten my house before the plumber or electrician come to do work. For all kinds of self-righteous, works-based reasons, I feel like I have to look good in order to be heard. Before my huge teenage rebellion that included sexual relationships and an assortment of drugs, I spent a few tender pre-teen years thinking I couldn’t go to God in prayer because I was sinful. I couldn’t seem to get myself acting right enough to come to him to even say Please or Thank You.

I think it’s interesting how much my own theology affects intimacy with my husband; how I go to God is often how I go to my husband. How I respond to God in His pursuit of me is often how I respond to Seth, too.

The last Sex Post on Incredible Sex in Marriage was very encouraging to me, and I related to so much of what Jane Anne had to say, but as a commenter pointed out, so many of us aren’t experiencing this Incredible Desire. So many of us actually experience emotional or physical pain, frustration, or fear. I happen to be one who falls right in the middle of both camps. Sex is amazing to me, but in order for it to be so, I have to battle in such an emotional and spiritual way, that some days, I would honestly really rather just watch television. Sometimes sex feels like work – not because it’s physical, but for me because it taps into a world in my mind and spirit that I want to bury. I don’t feel strong enough to be engaged that way.

I think that the reason our intimacy has improved with time together is the same reason my intimacy has improved with God. I don’t wait until it’s been a while since I harbored anger or had a lustful thought to go to God in prayer. I go honestly, and I say that even though my head isn’t screwed on straight, I’m saying thank You anyway. I’m still going to go to God in worship. I’ve learned that redemption gives me access to God, and when I walk in, Jesus holds my baggage. Sometimes, I leave the bags with Him, and sometimes out of ridiculous habit, I snatch the bags back. Not good, but it’s an honest evaluation.

In the same way, I have felt the need to be spiritually and emotionally strong to be with Seth, and I have often said NO because I don’t want to hurt or because I don’t feel like doing battle in my mind. Battle seems to exclude pleasure for me, and I’ve found myself feeling embittered toward Seth for desiring me, which is crazy because being desired by him has been my greatest honor. I want it no other way.

We’ve almost been married for 11 years, and it seems to have taken that long to really be able to talk openly about how we struggle, and it seems to have taken that long to be brave enough to share the things that make for Incredible Sex. I’m learning that it’s good to have a ready heart, to have willfully turned my bags over to Christ in advance, to enter into intimacy in the freedom that true purity offers, but I’m also learning that in marriage I go to my husband, and he comes to me, and we act out oneness and unity as a sign post for truth, because sometimes the facts and the truth don’t seem to line up. We act according to the truth – that we are one, a reflection of Christ and His broken bride – rather than acting in accord with the brokenness.

Though the brokenness seems to overwhelm sometimes, the truth prevails, and the intimacy binds, and often, it can be incredible – ready heart, or not.

amberhaines
About me

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9 Comments

Janna
Reply August 20, 2010

So, I'm a cryer when it comes to sex. After the climax that is. It's gotten better over the years since I have sought therapy and dealt with depression, but when we first got married -- man, it was bawling every single time. And no, I was never a victim of any kind. I just had so much to grieve over those first years. Poor John.
I used to really think something was way wrong with me. (And sometimes I still do, but I'm finding it's a more common occurence than I would have thought.) Whatever I've been holding in just releases. In truth, it's usually a good thing, and very cathartic. But sometimes, if I've been in a funk, or something tough is going on in our lives, I'd just rather not deal with such bursts of sadness. I so know what you mean about the burying and not wanting to be that engaged.
But I've also learned that it's right to practice the truth. I like how you said that, Amber. Thanks for the post.

deidra
Reply August 21, 2010

You've really described well the vulnerability of sexual intimacy. It's not all about the finish, is it? It's about the way we stand next to each other in the kitchen or greet each other at the end of the day. Or it's about the way we get caught up in the bills or the groceries or the diapers. There can be such beautiful sacredness there in the intimacy...the vulnerability. What I read here is that you get that. You respect it.

Gina Lind
Reply August 21, 2010

Thanks for this beautiful and honest post. You worded it so well and it really hit home for me! Without realizing it, that's my problem as well. Thanks for sharing, I've got some work to do. Blessings!

Adventures In Babywearing
Reply August 21, 2010

Amber, it will be 11 years for us in October and the same is going on with my hubby and I- the things we're FINALLY able to talk about for the first time ever... this sounds so much like me, thank you for revealing some things I hadn't even thought of, this gives me hope, honestly.

Steph

@bibledude
Reply August 23, 2010

Wow... this is certainly something that resonates with me and what my wife must sometimes feel when she says NO. While I don't think that I struggle with the same feelings that you describe here, this has helped me to look at my wife in a much more understanding way... whether it is THIS that she's dealing with or something else.

Thank you for the great post!

Marcus Goodyear
Reply August 23, 2010

What an incredible, honest, raw post. I'm amazed that you are so vulnerable--and I wish more of us could be.

I've been married 15 years, and it is still hard to talk about this stuff.

For me, a key realization lately has been to separate intimacy from sex. Sex is a form of intimacy, but there are many forms. In our culture, I think we have equated intimacy with sex in a way that is ultimately limiting. As wonderful as sex can be, intimacy is much broader than that.

Also, this line gave me pause: "we act out oneness and unity as a sign post for truth." My guy-ness wants to respond, "Sure, sex is a sign post for truth, but it is also just plain fun." :)

Delicate Fortress Creations
Reply August 23, 2010

Thank you so much for this post Amber. It is so nice to know I'm not alone. My husband and I just started talking about some of these issues and taking up the "battle" that happens in my mind. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.

Charissa Steyn
Reply August 27, 2010

Great post my dear! It's sooo true. I love this, "We act according to the truth – that we are one, a reflection of Christ and His broken bride – rather than acting in accord with the brokenness." What beautiful insight!

Jane Anne
Reply August 31, 2010

There is so much truth in this post, Amber. I love your comparison between our spiritual lives and our physical lives. We want to be pure before we come to God - but we aren't. We want to be perfect before we come to bed but we don't see ourselves that way. We just need to be present, honest, and accepting. That takes strength. It is hard to say No to my husband. It is also hard to accept that physical exhaustion on his part doesn't mean I am unattractive.
I think I could read these words over and over: "We act according to the truth – that we are one, a reflection of Christ and His broken bride – rather than acting in accord with the brokenness. Though the brokenness seems to overwhelm sometimes, the truth prevails, and the intimacy binds, and often, it can be incredible – ready heart, or not"

Thank you.

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