If sex is the problem, it’s not the issue

Hello again, sweet friends!

I pray these words find you aching towards Christ, and seeing Him respond in His grace and mercy.

I have had a thought so many times in this past year that I wanted to share with you. It’s a truth that has been lurking in the background of so many of my posts in the past, but has never been more clear to me as it is now.

If sex is the problem, then it’s the not the issue. 

If your marriage bed is what is causing you the most angst and tears, then I can promise you that it, in itself, is not the issue.
“So what is the issue?”, you may ask.

I hate to say I don’t know, but I don’t.

It could be some tangible sexual sin (and the things your heart may fear the most) – a pornography addiction or the devastation of adultery. It could be some tangible non-sexual sin – a gambling or gaming addiction, financial embezzlement, alcoholism.
These sins are the ones that our minds most often jump towards, these are the ones that haunt our dreams.

But there are other sins that can be the issue.
Self-centerdness. Silence. Pride.

Perhaps the issue is something else entirely. The root isn’t always sin.
There could be a history of sexual abuse. There could be other personality or history challenges affecting sexual desire or identity. It could be that there is a sense of shame around sex due to their family or some other circumstance. Perhaps there is an incorrect theology or philosophy of sex.

And then, of course, there is the whole realm of physical.
Performance issues.

(As an aside, I wrote about whether your husband’s lower sex drive is your fault in the blog posts here and here)

My sweet sisters – we are complicated beings. Often the actual issues will be multi-faceted, layers of several different areas. Often your spouse won’t even begin to know themselves well enough to identify the what or why of sexual refusal. Even if it is something “obvious”, like a pornography addiction or office romance – the why behind the action is tied to deep heart wounds that a “quick fix” (read, internet safety software or moving to another town) won’t get at.

So what are we to do about this?

Be aware. Often we have such a short-sighted view of our husband’s struggles (and our own!). Whatever they are, just know that there are layers you can’t see. Know that there are layers even he can’t see. Especially if he wasn’t raised to be self-aware, or has never had the language of the heart taught to him.

Be patient. This one is hard. Hard, hard, hard, hard. It doesn’t come naturally. It’s why it’s a fruit of His Spirit in us. Because we can’t contrive it, we can’t grow it, we can’t manufacture it and we can’t fake it. Be patient with his journey. Be patient with your own. Be patient with the journey you are on together.

Seek help. This is one of the most vital pieces. Listen to me, friends. You can’t do this alone. You both could probably benefit from counseling. Even if he won’t go – you go. You go for you. The church is Christ’s body, and it is wonderful. But sometimes a pastor isn’t enough. Prayer alone sometimes isn’t enough (I know, it is sacrilege to write). You or he may need psychological assistance. Or physical.

Find community. Finding friend’s is one of life’s greatest joys. Not the sort of friends you spill your husband’s secrets and faults to. Not gossip-driven women who are a shame to Christ’s name. I mean friends who will let you cry without needing to know why. I mean friends who will pray for you when you text them and ask. Find them in your church. Find them online. Pray for them. Open your eyes to women outside your usual circle of age, race, demographic, denomination.  We are not meant to journey alone. Even leaving a comment here can be a place to start.

Pray. Yes, I know I just said that prayer alone sometimes isn’t enough. But I do fervently believe in the power of prayer. Prayer doesn’t change our circumstances as much as it changes us. If you haven’t ever experienced the power of a prayer-life centered on Christ, go find a book by Thomas Keating or J. David Muyskens and read it. This is the magnet, friends, that pulls our hearts towards Christ.

From here on out, will you make me a promise?
When your marriage bed is suffering – when it is lacking, when it is a place of hurt rather than healing – will you ask yourself what is the real issue here?
Because it isn’t just sex.

Under the Mercy,
(praying you are as well)

Annabel

My words to broken women

This is a blog for broken women.
I didn’t realize it would be so when I started it, but as the months have passed and the comments and emails have added up, I realize that the women drawn here are facing what feels to be impossible situations. Too often their husbands refuse to admit anything is wrong. Sometimes, the counseling they get is unBiblical, or lacking in compassion. Women come crying into this space – filled with hurt from affairs, pornography, rejection.

These things weigh heavy on my heart. There are comments that I struggle to reply to – what to say? How to offer words of comfort or wisdom? I am not a licensed counselor. I am not an ordained minister. I am a simple women who is working through the daily challenges of her own marriage, a woman who is fighting for Truth herself. I am blessed to have seen so much healing in my own heart and home. But it’s not formulaic. And how to offer myself to the crushed and bruised that I find so often laying on my doorstep?

I cannot offer my arms through this gift and frustration we call the Internet. I often think that if we could meet, the greatest thing I could offer would be my silence. Sitting with the broken woman in sackcloth and ashes. Grieving.

But my silence here doesn’t carry that weight. It’s my words that are needed. And here they are – shaking and unsure. May they speak life into dead places.

The strength of the Church
God placed us in the Body for a reason. Our human response to pain is to retreat, like a wounded animal, to a safe place and hide. This response, as natural as it is, hurts us. We need a community of believers. So run, dear sister, run to the strength of fellowship. This may mean a local church body (which I strongly encourage you not to forsake). It may mean a small group that you attend. It may mean a woman or two that is willing to stand in prayer with you. Don’t alienate yourself. Find community.

The safety of the WordGod’s Word is alive. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. It will lead your feet down right paths. It will guide your heart towards truth. Open it. Soak in it. Let it renew your mind and form your worldview. There is safety here, sisters. It will guard your heart from bitterness. It will guard your tongue from lies and cruelty. If you do nothing else, pick up this living Book and let it shape your heart.

The power of prayer
I have said this so many times before – do you truly know the power of prayer? When you are lost and confused – do you ask for answers? Truly? I find so often my prayers are simply complaints – not a true surrendering of my will or a seeking of His. Let prayer be like breathing – a continual pattern that fills your day. Prayer doesn’t need to be a show. You don’t need to be on bended knee (although the humility of that position can help turn your heart towards Him). It can be at your kitchen sink, or sitting at your desk, or as you make your bed. Let prayers rise like incense – ever before Him.

The surrender of the willThis is the mark of a woman who has a true understanding of who this Christ is that she follows. And yet, it can be the hardest thing of them all. When life is a tumult, when your heart is broken – do you stand before Him with open hands? Like Christ, do you say “Not my will, but your will be done”? Those words ache. Do we really embrace that in all things He is working for our good? Do we accept that bearing our Cross may mean this? And God calls us to bear our suffering with joy. Joy?! How is that possible? Only in surrender. May we be women who stand humbly before our God, fighting for and believing in the miraculous, and realizing that His answer may be the changing of our hearts.

The choice of life“Today I set before you life and death…choose life.”
Choosing life is choosing gratitude. It is choosing joy. It is choosing to find expressions of our life that bring beauty to those around us. Serving others through our gifts. It is choosing to build our hearts up with good things, and not things that paint false pictures. Our willingness to engage in things that bring life will bear good fruit. As my counselor once said, “Sometime you have to wake up and ask yourself ‘What would I do today if I felt wonderful?’ and then go and do that thing.” This is a choice to live out of the reality that we cannot see, rather than the one we can.

My dearest friends and sisters. I know you are hurting. I know.
And I know that these words are not enough to answer every question. They are not enough to fill the deep pain in your heart – the tearing that you wonder if you will ever recover from. I offer them with tears and prayers. May they lead you to the only One who can heal your heart. May you find Christ, and in Him find true comfort. He is your heart’s true home – may you be found dwelling in Him.

Irregardless of our realization of it today, the truth is that we will all one day stand before Him. Our Lamb who gave His life for us. We will see Him, and we will be like Him. And as hard as it is to imagine, we will one day realize that He is worthy of all our suffering. We will not arrive with demands and questions. We will see Him and cast down our crowns, crying “Holy, holy, holy.”

I am praying for you today.
And thank you for your prayers. I have felt the difference as we enter the last week of Lent and look towards the most important day in our Christian calendar – the celebration of His overcoming death and winning us to Himself.

You are loved.
Annabel

If you are a reader, here are two books I would highly recommend in helping shape your heart towards Truth in hard times.
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard

A dark hole – and seeing the light

Good morning, dear friends. I hope this January day is finding you pursuing the heart of Christ. I am still working on my post about seducing a lower-drive husband, and I promise it will be ready for you soon!

I have been really challenged recently by this series of blogs, and if you follow me on Twitter you will see that I encouraged you to read it this morning.
I wanted to share a part of my journey with you all today in hopes that it would encourage you and perhaps challenge you.

I struggle with depression.
This ongoing fight has been present for more years than I can remember, but last winter was the darkest period of my life. I was post-partum and pre-partum. I was “stuck” as a stay-at-home mom in a cold house through dark nights and short days. I was reconciling myself to many, many lost dreams. I needed to grieve. So I ran. I hid myself in books. In fact, in the three months at the start of last year I read over 100 books. Yes, you read that correctly. And they were not life-giving. They were smutty, trashy novels. Anything to get away from the reality I was trying so hard to deny. Any spare moment I had I was sunk deep into my Kindle. If I wasn’t reading, I was crying. Emotions were an overwhelming part of that season, and I didn’t know how to respond to them.
Spring came, and with it some relief. I slowly picked up and moved on. Spring turned to summer turned to fall…and with fall came a sick feeling in my heart. I could feel myself being pulled back into darkness.

Over the past few months I have been fighting the good fight. I have been to see several counselors, and I am currently taking a regime of vitamins with hopes it will help me to crawl out of a deep well. I have a prescription for stronger meds just waiting at the pharmacy, but I am hopeful that through nutrition and suppliments I will be able to face my own personal demons and find that the light of Christ shines in some dark places. I am in a better place than I have been in a long time, and I believe God is meeting me.

But oh, how often I find myself taking two steps back. A few days ago my husband and I got into a really petty argument. Petty. And for some reason that was enough to send me into a tailspin. I have spent the last 48 hours starting into my computer screen desperately trying to escape. Mostly through Hulu, Pinterest and gossip columns about stars. Online junk. And it’s humbling to admit, but when I run away, I run away from everything. Like Evie recently wrote about, I shut down my heart – including my sex drive. I become a shell just doing the minimum to survive. My kids suffer. My husband suffers. I suffer.

Joy, at Grace Full Mama has been writing some things recently that have helped me to crawl back out of the hole. I have been reminded that I have to abide in Him. To cling to Him.

I am praying for you today. Praying that you also are clinging to Him. Praying that you are finding the strength to face your own demons and fight. Fight, dear friends. Fight in every way and in every place you know how.
Look to Christ. Have hope in Him alone. Ask Him to rescue you from yourself.
And pray for me today, too. Pray that I would find the courage to do the small, simple tasks that I need to do (hello, Christmas decorations that need to come down). Pray that I would have the strength to focus on my husband, my children, my home.

I treasure you, and this space. Thanks for letting me be honest here.
Annabel

Forgiveness

Hello, dear and amazing friends. I hope you are doing well today – that you are finding life and joy in Christ and in your marriages. I know there are many of you who are on a journey of finding that life, and I want you to know I am praying for you right now. Praying peace over your hearts and health to the painful places in your soul. May God grant you grace, insight, and wholeness. May you find friendship, counsel, a shoulder to cry on and wisdom for the many decisions in front of you.

I have recently been pondering the subject of forgiveness, and thinking about how much we have to forgive our spouse in the journey of marriage. I think we should change our wedding vows to say something along the lines of “To have, hold and forgive from this day forward…” Because isn’t that so much more a part of marriage than you ever thought it would be?

I don’t know about you, but  I didn’t get a teaching on forgiveness in my pre-marital counseling, and I could have used it. Oh, I knew we would have petty disagreements, but that’s not what I am talking about here. I am talking about the heart-wrenching, completely devastating experiences in marriage that leave you spinning. I am talking about the wounds we cause each other with our words and actions that cut deep, and take time to heal. Forgiveness in that arena isn’t quite as easy as when my sweet little one spills their milk and quickly says “Sorry Mama!”

A few weeks ago I heard a description of forgiveness that floored me – and I wanted to share it with you, in hopes that it will paint a picture that will help you as it has me.

When your husband (or anyone) wrongs you, it creates a hurt inside of you. That offense tears into your heart, leaving a gap that must be filled in order for you to be whole. And its a gap that can’t be ignored, or we will find ourselves bitter and cynical. And the problem is we can’t just simply say “I forgive you”, and expect those words to magically fill that gap. As many of you know, they don’t.
The hard truth is that forgiveness is most often a choice, and very rarely a feeling. And we are commanded to forgive. So then, how do we do it in a way that carries truth and isn’t just rote words? As Christ-followers, when we say “I forgive you”, what we are saying (in reality) is this:

“You have created a gap in my heart with your words and actions. That gap must be filled in order for me to be whole, and I so desperately need and want to be whole. So I recognize that your sin leaves you in debt to me. You rightly owe me – you rightly must fill the gap you created. I also recognize, however, that this tear in my heart, this hole you created, can never be filled by you. You owe me a debt you cannot pay. And so when I say that I forgive you, I am telling you that I am taking that hole you created, that debt you so rightfully owe me, and I am giving it to Christ. I am choosing to release you of the responsibility for repairing my heart, and I am offering it up instead to the Healer of all wounds. My forgiving you doesn’t erase the hurt. It doesn’t magically fix the gap. My forgiving you doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge the debt, it just means I am choosing not to hold that debt against you.”

That, my dear sisters, is powerful. That makes forgiveness so much richer and truer than merely pretending like everything is okay. You must acknowledge that the hurt your husband caused you is real. And you need to realize that it may take time for the gap to be filled. But forgiveness releases someone from the rightful requirement of repayment, and gives it to the one who died to pay all debts.

Please hear me in this – forgiveness does not make everything magically okay. There may still be a process of grieving and healing to be walked out. You may need counseling; you may need time; you may need many conversations to help heal the wound. But you aren’t holding your husband hostage to a debt that he was never going to be able to pay.
The process of regaining trust, or healing a marriage, is not the same as the act of forgiveness. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We forgive because it glorifies the God who forgave us. We forgive because we are commanded to. We forgive because we are truly loved and chosen.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that the gap in your heart doesn’t exist anymore. It doesn’t even mean that you necessarily will be reconciled to that person (there are many who need to forgive someone who has already passed away). It means that you have released them from the responsibility of paying back their debt.

Dear sisters, I urge you to forgive. I urge you to shame the enemy and reject the world by choosing to walk the narrow path. And I promise you, when you choose to forgive you will find that there is a Healer who can, indeed, work all things for the good of those that love Him and who are called according to His purpose.

Praying for you today. Praying you will recieve the courage to forgive, and the wisdom you need to walk out what the journey of healing looks like for you. It may be as simple as some time with your journal. Or it may take months of counseling, pastoral care and hard descisions.
Pray for me too. Pray today that I would also walk out true forgiveness for people in my life who have hurt me. I am convicted as I write these words that there are still some who I need to release from their debt, and I need the courage to do so.

I cherish being on this journey with you.
Annabel

Is my husband’s lower drive my fault? (Pt. 2)

On Monday I tackled the hard question – is my husband’s lower drive my fault? I talked about some of the ways that we as wives can hinder or mute our husband’s sex drive, and issued a challenge for all of us to check our hearts to see if we need to repent and change.
Today I want to talk about the things that can be affecting your husband’s lower drive that have nothing to do with you.

To give the same caveat I gave on Monday, here are a few important things to note. First, a lower sexual drive isn’t necessarily a problem. The problem comes when mismatched drives leads to miscommunication, hurt and a lack of oneness. Of course, if you have found and are reading this blog then it probably means you are in a scenario where this is true.
I also want to caution you that marriage is not like Newton’s 3rd law of physics – “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. We don’t get to keep score in our marriages, and we don’t get to say to our spouse “I am loving you, so you must love me back.” We follow Christ, love our spouse and fight for our marriages because it is right, and because marriage is holy. Not because our spouse will become the perfect person, or even change one iota.

So, on those notes, here are a few things that might be affecting your husband’s lower drive that have nothing to do with you:

1. Exhaustion and/or stress
Well, okay, this one might have something to do with you if you are doing any of the things I talked about on Monday. But it also might be due to circumstances completely outside of your control. Maybe he is working long hours, or his boss is putting a lot of pressure on him. Maybe the weight of responsibility to care for his household is incredibly heavy right now. For some men, these weights might cause them to seek out their spouse sexually because it brings joy and relief. For others, the sexual part of marriage may tend to feel like another place where they have to “impress” or “perform”. Or perhaps the thought of trying to stay awake another 15 minutes might feel overwhelming. As a wife, you have so much power in these moments. Help make your home a place of rest and retreat. If you see your husband needs sleep, then sacrifice your evenings of “getting stuff done while the kids are asleep” to head to bed with him. Give him the gift of a few nights of solid sleep, and when he isn’t looking at you through haze-filled eyes, serve him by pursuing him sexually. Be the best help you can. Do the chores he usually does. Find practical ways to take some things off his plate, if you can. And do it with joy, not a grumbling spirit.
Above all, pray for him, daily. Be the warrior who fights alongside him. Pray for those situations in which he feels overwhelmed. Pray that he would see Christ in each day, and see the strength that he has been given to accomplish each task.

2. Feelings of failure/inadequacy/loneliness/depression
Sometimes, the situations I described in #1 can become chronic. When that happens your husband might start to struggle with feelings of failure or inadequacy. He may retreat into a place of loneliness. He may even struggle with depression (diagnosed or not). When this happens, the sexual drive is often very affected. As women we understand this. Even as a “spicy” wife, there are days where I can compare myself to those perfectly air-brushed-non-existant magazine women and feel inadequate. And at that moment I struggle with “lights-on, all-out, let’s-go-for-it” sex. Imagine that feeling compounded into multiple days and it isn’t hard to see where your husband may have a lower drive.
First, let me encourage you to go read the suggestions I made under #1. Prayer being the most important. Second, encourage your husband to seek council. A trusted pastor or friend, a counselor, or perhaps even a physician can be good places to receive wise words that, in all honesty, he may not have the ability to hear from you. He may even need medical help for a season to help combat depression.

3. Addiction
Your husband may struggle with an addiction. It could be to drugs, or alcohol, or pornography. Any addiction can lead to a decreased sexual drive, but pornography is probably the most harmful to a person’s sexual drive. Any addiction is always on a sliding scale. He may be bravely struggling against it, but losing the battle. He may be on the slippery slope, but still in the “shallow waters”. He may be fully plunged in and unable to see past it. Whatever the case, it is hurtful and devastating. There is nothing to say to a wife who is in these heart-breaking situations except that I grieve and weep for you and with you. How I wish I could embrace you and hold you as you cry, offer you a box of Kleenex and sit in “sackcloth and ashes” with you today.
But I can pray for you. And here is my prayer – may you see with the compassionate eyes of Christ. Your husband is not a monster. He is a broken, wounded man who has bought into a lie and is finding a way to fill the cracks in his soul. One of the best resources I have found to help you see into his heart is a wonderful book called “Surfing for God“. If you are in an addiction scenario (or perhaps you struggle with an addiction yourself) – run, don’t walk, and get this book TODAY. It will shed light and hope in your soul and help you to see your husband with new eyes.
I am also praying that you find Godly counsel. Even if your husband will not receive it, you need it. Find a trusted person (hopefully a woman) that you can pour your soul out to. If you really don’t have a single person you can trust, you are welcome to email me. I am not a licensed counselor, nor am I am pastor, but I am a woman who loves Christ and will be honored to hear your story and stand with you.

4. Medical
Your husband may suffer from low testosterone. Testosterone is a challenging thing because the range of “normal” is so incredibly wide. I urge you to find a doctor who will listen to your story and be willing to consider what age your husband is in comparison to his levels. Here is an interesting study on what some average levels were in men of various ages. This isn’t a large study, by any means, but it is perhaps a starting point for a conversation with your doctor. Also, this writer rants a little about doctors, and while I am not a big fan of his tone, I do agree that you need a doctor who is willing to to listen to your story.  A low testosterone level will not only affect his libido, but his energy levels and outlook on life. Testosterone supplements helped him regain a healthier and happier lifestyle along with an increased sexual drive. A quick word of caution, however. When I first began to try and find help with my own marriage bed it seemed that everyone I encountered said, “Oh your husband probably has low testosterone.” He got tested. He is well above the normal range for his age (or any age, for that matter). So just because your husband has a lower drive, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has low testosterone. But it is an easy one to check off the list because all it requires is a simple blood test and then you can move on.

5. His Creator
Your husband may have a lower sexual drive than you simply because he was made that way by God. As you seek to become the wife God has called you to be, and as you pray through the various circumstances regarding your husband’s sex drive, you may come to realize that this is simply the way he is made. Your very first priority here is to begin to accept your husband as he is. To thank God for him. To go low, stop keeping score, and pursue him sexually. Just because your husband has a lower drive than you doesn’t mean he can’t enjoy sex more often than he might think to initiate it. So initiate it!
Purpose in your heart not to despise the man God has given you, and to work together towards oneness in your marriage bed. Ask God to give you the right words and the right timing to talk to him about your higher sexual drive and the needs you have. Pray that his heart would be soft and willing to hear you and serve you. God put you with this man for a reason – and I can tell you what that reason is. He wants you to look more like Christ. So work out your salvation in all things, and thank God for giving your husband to you.

One last note. Pray for your husbands, ladies. You have a Father who knows him perfectly. God knows where he is lacking, where he is weak, where he is deceived, where he needs help. And as you pray, the Holy Spirit inside of you, who has the ability to search the heart of God, can begin to reveal to your heart where to pray for your husband (I Cor. 2: 10-12). You can get insight into his heart on how to encourage him and serve him. You may realize, through prayer, that your husband is suffering from something in the first four points. If that happens, you now have the ability to pray specifically for him, and to get counsel and wisdom about how to approach it. You can now move into a scenario where you are a team, fighting together, rather than warring against one another. Prayer is powerful ladies.

And so I am praying for you today. Praying specifically for the women who have graciously shared their stories with me. Praying for those of you who are here in deep pain and hurt from your marriages. Praying for healing, redemption, restoration. Praying that when your tears fall, you would feel the arms of Grace wrap around you and hold you. Praying that God would bring friendship, counsel, wisdom and laughter into your lives. Pray for me today too, dear friends. Pray that I would have the wisdom to see into the challenges in my own heart and to grow in obedience.

Humbled to walk with you,
Annabel

P.S. Anything I have missed that you would like to add? Would love to hear from you.

Having “the talk”

A few weeks ago my husband and I had a groundbreaking discussion about sex. I am so grateful that he really heard me, and things have been different in our marriage bed since then. I wanted to give you a few thoughts about how to approach this subject – especially as a high drive wife.

1. Realize you are dealing with a sensitive topic
I think that often low desire husbands are aware (even if they don’t say so) that they are “different” than media portrays. They know they don’t want sex as much as the average guy. Now there are several reasons that a man might have a low drive. I highly recommend this post to research a few of those ways. However, sometimes a man just simply has a lower drive than his wife. Often as women we think that our men can’t be hurt, or are somehow made of stone. That just isn’t true – your words matter. You have the power of life & death over his masculine heart. So couch your words in grace and love.

2. Find a way to communicate in his language
I heard this tip a few years ago, and it’s one of the most practical marriage tips I ever received. When you are approaching your husband about an issue where you don’t see eye to eye, try to explain it in words that make sense to him. So what makes sense to your husband? Football? Marketing? Money? Speak to him with words he can hear. For instance, my husband loves soccer. So I can try to explain to him how a lack of sex for me is like sending 1/2 of a soccer team out onto the field and expecting a victory. The team might play hard, and even enjoy playing, but will ultimately lose. It’s like that for me with sex in marriage. I enjoy being married. I give of myself and know it is a good thing. But it’s like I am missing half the team – I will ultimately feel like I am losing. This approach doesn’t mean that your husband will agree, necessarily – but it can help him see it from your side.

3. Be honest, but loving
This is one of the hardest balances to strike. How do I be honest with my husband and yet loving in my words? The Bible says that “a soft answer turns away wrath”. And if I approach my husband harshly, or with demanding, or an “I deserve better” attitude – I will drive him away. When I talked to my husband a few weeks ago, it was with tears and a soft heart. The tears were NOT manipulating, but I was honestly broken by the lack of sex and he saw it. I was able to tell him how vulnerable my heart is, and ask him to help protect me from the Enemy’s attack.

4. Covered with prayer
This is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do before talking to your husband about sex. Pray. Pray that God would give him a soft and understanding heart. Pray that your words would be seasoned with grace. Pray mostly for your own heart -that you wouldn’t speak from bitterness or anger. Pray for the right timing, and watch for when that timing comes. Don’t try to force the conversation when you are tired, or hungry, or upset about something else. Find a neutral time when it is safe. Find a neutral place (i.e. laying in your bed at night before sleeping probably isn’t it). Ask God to help you hear the whisper of His voice when the time is right.

5. Accept the journey
One conversation probably won’t completely change everything. Be open to that. Approach this conversation as the first of many. Sex in marriage is not static, so don’t think talking about it one time will be the end-all. If you can see this conversation as an opening of your heart so that further conversations can be had, then you won’t feel the pressure to try and “fix” everything with this one talk. Hopefully this conversation will be the way to open the door between you so that you can continue to talk.

Praying for you today, dear friends. Praying that God would open a door of conversation for you in your marriages. Praying that your husbands would hear your heart. Praying for change to come.

Annabel

Permission to grieve

Life is hard. Marriage is hard. And, if you re like me, then there are places in both where it hasn’t turned out as you hope. It could be your marriage bed, your finances, or how your friendship looks now. I remember when I was younger I used to always feel so ordinary because I didn’t have a “story” to tell. I was raised by Godly parents and hadn’t really ever done anything “worse” than smoke a cigarette. At some point in my growing up years, however, I remember someone saying that if you don’t have a story yet, all you need to do is keep living.

That’s so true, isn’t it? There is no possible way that you can go through life without experiencing loss, hurt, pain…even devastation. As I have journeyed through my own hurts, both within marriage and without, there have been places where the things I hoped for haven’t come to pass. A few months ago, I was talking to my counselor about the loss of the dreams I had concerning marriage. Dreams about how my husband and I would relate. Dreams about our marriage bed. Dreams about how I thought we would look. And she looked at me and said, “It’s okay – you can grieve.”

As I sat on that couch, crying tears that had finally escaped from behind the dam, it was as if I stood over a grave. And, in some ways, I did. I stood over the grave of the pictures I had in my head for so many years. I stood over the grave of expectations. I had seen some dreams in my heart die. And the truth was that instead of grieving I had just tried to ignore it. I had played the brave face, I had tried to tell myself, “It’s okay, those dreams weren’t really important.” But they were. And losing them was painful.

So I am here to say the same thing to you –
It’s okay, dear friend…you can grieve.

You can grieve the dreams and hopes lost. Something has truly died. And if you try to go on living as if it doesn’t matter, then your heart will begin a slow journey of death.

So find a place to mourn. Whatever that looks like to you – tears, writing, prayers, silence. Drain any abscesses in your heart. And however long that journey takes – go on it. But let me caution you – make sure it is a safe place. It could rip holes into the fabric of your marriage for you to go on this journey publicly. Find a trusted counselor or pastor to allow you to pour your heart out. Or find a closet and get before your heart’s true Father and cry out to Him. Lean on the Eternal Shoulder of Strength. He is faithful. He is steady. He isn’t afraid of your emotions.

It isn’t until you grieve that you can truly move on. You must grieve what has been lost to see what is found. You must mourn what has died to see what truly lives. There is great hope ahead, but you have to let go of the pictures you have clung so tightly to.

I am praying for you today. Praying your heart will be brave enough to face it’s fears, to grieve it’s losses. And praying that, when the grief passes, you will find that indeed joy comes in the morning. Pray for me today too. Pray that I, also, face some demons in my heart and life. Pray that I am brave. Pray that I lean on Strong Arms.

Kept,
Annabel