I started into marriage with high expectations.
I wanted a godly relationship. I wanted intimacy, oneness, acceptance, and to be cherished. I wanted the real deal, every beautiful image of romance and free expression. I wanted to be LOVED.
There were some gray areas leading up to the wedding.
Something was a bit off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Something was missing. We often had disagreements about his strong opinions on everything. I was concerned about his sincerity with God. But then he’d swoop in with some grand gesture towards me or sympathetic attitude towards someone in need and I melted. I reminded myself of all his good qualities and let my concerns go unaddressed. I always responded to his attention. It seemed to change the course of what was happening at the moment.
The wedding night started a pattern.
Every girl dreams of this moment. It’s both the thrill of freedom to share sexually what you’ve longed for and the euphoric satisfaction of finally being ‘married’. But our night went all wrong. It was abrupt, without tender build up or sweet nothings at the end. It brings to mind the image of an impatient mama cat. Her kittens are pressed up against her, contentedly nursing and then, she gets up and walks away, dumping them off and leaving them wanting her affection. Afterwards, I walked the beach, alone and in the dark.
I was praying, “God, is this all there is?”
Absent was the sweet lingering of a beautiful exchange of love. Present was the weight of feeling disappointed, confused, scared and overwhelmed. I was clueless about what to do next. Resolved to go forward, though, I chose to keep trying to make it better. My hormones were still quite happy to be let out of the gate, so I spent the next week of our honeymoon chasing passion.
The physical aspect continued, but so did the silence.
As young marrieds life was full of new things. Getting settled, creating new schedules and wanting to be fully established as a couple. I got caught up in the whirlwind of being a newlywed and let the rush of a wedded lifestyle fill the void in our intimacy. We had sex all the time. We just did it without connecting emotionally.
The mixed messages began to gnaw at my heart.
He wanted me for this new life. He wanted me for sex. But he didn’t want to open up on an emotional level. To be honest, I didn’t help matters. I wasn’t used to people wanting to hear my deep feelings, so I didn’t know how to ask for the missing connection. I assumed we were after the same things in our relationship. I was struggling with being vulnerable and asking for what I wanted and needed. The pressure was mounting inside me, but I shut it down, by saying I was praying.
The pattern continued.
He wanted more sex. I wanted more connection. We began a debilitating cycle of unmet needs. I started to express what I wanted, but he’d brush it off with a temporary gesture of goodwill. I remember getting ready for a women’s retreat. Before I left we’d had an intense fight. I was crying so hard I burst all the blood vessels under my eyes. All weekend long I kept covering my face hoping no one would notice. When I returned he’d painted and wallpapered the entire master bedroom. That act was supposed to take care of everything. And if I wasn’t appreciative ‘enough’, if I didn’t let his ‘love’ be enough, then what was wrong with me?
My ‘failures’ were becoming more obvious.
I began to beat myself up for not ‘loving’ him enough. Surely, if I was a good wife, I’d be fine with whatever he wanted, however, he wanted to do it. And, he was doing this generous nice thing for me, by finishing up our new house… right? So, what was wrong with me? On the surface, my life was absolutely cruising along, the epitome of happiness and success. We were an attractive couple on the way up. But inside, I was dying. In my head, I not only wasn’t ‘loving’ my husband, but since that wasn’t happening, then I wasn’t pleasing God either. How could I live with that?
My experiences weren’t lining up with Scripture.
As a wife, I was supposed to please my husband and put him first. I was supposed to yield my body to him. And yet, when we were together sexually I felt crushed. It’s like I wasn’t even there. My heart wasn’t requested or welcomed. My inner person wasn’t wanted, only my body. To be a good wife (a Godly wife) I needed to please him, but it was destroying me by continuing to let that happen.
It actually got even worse.
My hormones were still active. I had sensual desires. If I wanted to fulfill my own sexual needs it meant subjecting myself to this demeaning experience with him. In order to satisfy my passion, I had to agree that my inner person didn’t matter. To participate on his terms meant I was just a body. So I ‘sold’ my soul to feel physical pleasure with my husband.
There was a trigger verse that distorted it more.
Col 3:5 in the Amplified translation has a phrase to “kill… sensual appetites”. I now know the full meaning, but back then it absolutely arrested me. There is a list of fleshly vices that Paul spoke about to stop. I identified with the phrase ‘sensual appetite’ because in my marriage that’s what intimacy had been reduced to… actually, what it always had been. Sexual intimacy was merely a physical, fleshly activity. So, to love God I was supposed to put away the very thing (sensual appetite) that showed ‘love’ to my husband. How could I possibly do both?
The full cycle was packed with ‘crazy making’.
I loved God and wanted to please Him. I loved my husband and wanted to please him. The way my husband wanted to be pleased was with sex. In order to have sex with him, I had to participate on a physical level only, without emotional intimacy. To have sex without my inner person being involved meant I had to deny that my heart was worth being loved. I had to agree that my life was second class and not deserving of honor. And the fact that I had active sexual inclinations myself was like my body selling out my own heart. To be fulfilled sexually (in my marriage) I had to go against what I believed subconsciously about my value in God. I had to disassociate from my emotional self (my identity) to express my sexual self (what seemed to just be my flesh). The dilemma was how could I love God, my husband and myself at the same time with this mess of an understanding about sexual intimacy?
Recognizing and exposing the lies began my journey to healing.
God walked me through some intense seasons of rebuilding my identity, based on His love. Because of His goodness in giving me freedom, I am now able to walk with other women on their journey to wholeness. Today I write, speak and openly champion healthy, Godly intimacy. As a Relationship Coach and Intimacy Advocate I work with women restoring their hearts (following sexual abuse and dysfunction) who want more freedom expressing themselves, so they can have meaningful connections. It is a process, but it is a true possibility with God’s love.
For the rest of my restoration story and information on how we can work together contact me at http://www.marywhitmanortiz.com. Working together, you cancreate the intimacy that thrills you spirit, soul, and body.