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I recently received an email from a woman expressing her deep regret about not addressing the sexual intimacy struggles in her marriage sooner.
She has given me permission to share her story, with the hope that it will help other wives realize the deep significance of sex.
Her experiences reflect those of many wives who struggle with sex -- whether it be because of past sexual abuse, misconceptions about sex, shame, and/or physical challenges with hormone levels.
I pray you would read her words with a tender and aware heart.
It took courage for her to be so vulnerable in sharing this...
"We have been married for 27 years. I regrettably am one who would reject my husband night after night and did not realize the impact it was having on him.
We have known each other since we were 12, high school sweethearts, married at 20, kids by 23 and it went from there. My husband is a good man, with a good heart, who has always taken care of me and our 2 daughters.
When we dated, I was interested in him and making out and wanted him.
Once we were married, it changed. I'm not sure why.
Actually I have a lot of theories. I was the one who was messed up on my perception of sex – thinking it was bad or something you don't talk about. It was embarrassing to me for some reason. My mom tried talking to me and I would just cry and cry and tell her I do not want to talk about this.
I did have some really early bad experiences when I was very young, like 4 yrs old. Older cousins who would do bad things they shouldn't have been doing. That's my theory on my mixed emotions and thoughts on sex. I actually thought, "Now that I'm married, everybody knows I'm having sex." I remember thinking this and feeling bad. How stupid!
I also started birth control about 2 or 3 months before I was married. I've read that birth control can affect hormone levels in some women, causing low sexual desire. I'm not sure if that was it or part of it, along with my misinformed, misconstrued attitude regarding sex.
After we had our girls, I was so terrified they would hear us having sex and think something. I know now how ridiculous this sounds and is.
I was always thinking about other things, mind constantly working, not being able to relax. I was a huge worrier. Not good. My husband, from the inception of our marriage had to practically beg me for sex.
I was interested and felt sexual before marriage. What happened to me?!
As life went along, I didn't think I needed help. I thought I was normal and that our marriage was normal.
I always heard the man wants it and the woman doesn't. “Honey, I've got a headache!” Just hearing jokes about this and thinking it was normal. It was far from normal.
I always tried to have relations with my husband at least every 2 weeks and I tried not to let it go over that. Sometimes it did; sometimes it was more. I would try to make an effort to do better. This tormented my husband.
Literally tormented him.
He did not understand why I didn't love him or want him. LOVE HIM – this is the way he felt loved. I didn't know or see it as that.
This was my husband’s number one need. He prayed to God, "Why doesn't she love me? What can I do to make her want me and love me?”
For years this went on. I did not realize the pain I was inflicting on him. Severe pain and agony.
I knew he wanted more sex, but I thought it was just a physical need men have. I was so wrong. It was so much more than that to him!
I should have been more attentive and cared more to realize this was a real problem. If I had realized this, our lives would have been almost perfect. We have been blessed with 2 wonderful daughters and have lived a very comfortable, secure life.
Little did I know I was killing my husband a little at a time over the years and driving him further and further away from me. He deserved so much more from me!
Fast forward 24 yrs into our marriage and the unthinkable happened.
A woman showed interest in my husband – my wonderful, handsome husband. She made him feel good about himself and showed interest in him and gave him some badly needed attention that I should have been giving him at home!
I truly understand how and why this happened and how he was so very vulnerable to her. So we have gone through some very trying times. We are still together, but we are still struggling.
This December it will be 3 years that I was aware something wasn't right. This was devastating to our family, even my husband. He is a very moral, ethical man who always gave great advice to friends and co-workers.
No one, not even my husband, thought he would ever do this. If this happened to us, it can happen to anyone.
I am writing to you because I want to be able to help any young woman out there who could learn, educate themselves, get help and avoid the most painful thing you can endure -- other than illness or worse happening to your children.
After I found out what was going on, I jumped up and did a 360 on trying to seek help and change myself."
She shared how she read books, visited marriage websites and went to her doctor to have her hormone levels checked. Her doctor, unfortunately, did not hear the seriousness of her concern. She switched doctors and did find that her low testosterone levels could be remedied through a hormonal cream.
"The cream has worked wonders for me -- I mean wonders. I have desire like I did when I was a teenager. I had forgotten what it felt like to have instant arousal.
Now I have so much more feeling...so much more desire. It's unbelievable. I also have worked on my mind and educated myself and read the Bible and understood things in a whole new way.
I never looked at myself in the mirror naked, much less my husband. Never thought, "Hey, I can enjoy this too and it's okay to enjoy it."
The thing is, it may be too late.
My efforts may be way too late.
I love my husband as much or more than the day I married him. I have forgiven him – did right away. He's a good man and you don't come by this type of man everyday.
I am fighting to save our marriage, but I may have done irrevocable damage that cannot be fixed.
We are currently so confused and messed up, it’s not funny. My husband cannot get past the way I've treated him and right now he hasn't forgiven me. We are really messed up in the bedroom right now. I started having sex with my husband every night when I found out something was wrong. I didn't know there was another woman at the time.
I wanted to prove to him that I could change and that is how much I loved him. This made him really mad as time went on, because he was thinking, "All these years and now you can change?" He fell really hard for the other woman, so we are still dealing with many issues.
There is so much to our story, but my main intention is to try and let any wife who is doing like I did to stop, get help, change your ways. Check into your testosterone levels. Change your way of thinking before its too late.
When I read the 5 Things You Must Know if You Are Denying Your Husband Sex, I just wanted to bawl. I wish I had known years ago what I know now."
Does anything in her story speak into your situation?
I recognize that each person's situation is unique and that what works for one couple may not work for another.
I think, though, that her personal experience resonates with a theme that is present in many marriages where there are sexual struggles:
If you don't intentionally address those sexual intimacy struggles, things can definitely go from bad to worse.
Whether your struggles with sex are caused by relationship issues, hormonal issues, past sexual abuse, misconceptions about sex, or a host of other reasons, do not delay.
Start now to do something.
Your marriage is worth peeling back the layers and seeking healing, solution and redemption.
I'm glad she shared her story, especially considering the pain involved. If you were enlightened by her story, please comment and share that.
Copyright 2012, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.