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I recently finished reading Jennifer Smith's book "The Unveiled Wife," in which she chronicles with raw vulnerability the struggles she and her husband Aaron faced from the start of their young marriage.
With transparency and courage, she shares about her hopes for an amazing marriage, including profound sexual intimacy, once she became a bride -- only to encounter instead physical pain during sex that left both her and Aaron exasperated and confused.
Digging deeper, she peels back even more layers of emotional pain rooted in both of their pasts, and the horrendous impact such pain was taking on their fragile marriage.
Their difficulty in coping was compounded by denial, poor communication, selfishness, pride and an unwillingness to be honest about the depth of the struggles.
She at times contemplated divorce. I have to be honest -- as I was reading the book, I was expecting at any moment that she would share they did indeed separate.
Through betrayal, disappointment, anger and anxiety, she and Aaron fought hard for their marriage (although not always at the same time).
They found comfort and truth in the Lord's Word and in the wisdom of other married couples who were safe haven for them as they sought to heal their marriage.
Jennifer and Aaron had begun their marriage steeped in her romanticized version of a Christ-centered relationship. They instead found themselves with no other alternative but to mature toward something even better and more reflective of God's provision.
It was there where they built genuine intimacy with each other and with God.
Jennifer writes the book primarily through her voice and lens, which I think makes it a book to which other women may easily relate.
While the physical pain Jennifer experienced during sex is a key thread throughout the book, the book definitely explores other marital struggles that are more universal.
Jennifer is quick to point out that her experiences may not mirror other women's experiences, but that her journey is abundant with lessons that can enlighten and encourage any marriage.
I couldn't agree more.
Throughout the pages, I easily sense Jennifer's hunger for deep abiding relationship with the Lord, amidst flawed and sometimes uncomfortable human frailties. That, no doubt, is a lesson for all of us, regardless of the circumstances we face.
This is a good read, particularly because it feels unsettling at times -- to be so honest about disillusionment within marriage.
I appreciate anytime someone vulnerably shares their story and sheds light where light needs to be shed. Thank you for that, Jen. When we do this, especially as Christians, we empower others to be real about their own struggles.
Ultimately, as a body of Christ, we can then celebrate that authentic relationship -- with each other and with the Lord -- is a messy, messy endeavor. And it is rich with potential.
To find out more about Jennifer and her books, check out her wildly successful blog The Unveiled Wife.
Copyright 2015, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.