3 Vital Lessons for Sexually Struggling Marriages from a Really Big Fire

sexual-intimacy-in-marriage-curmblingAn accidental fire destroyed a treasured old building in Omaha’s Historic Old Market District.

What happened before and after the fire started contains three lessons we can apply to marriages that are struggling sexually.

But first, let me tell you about the fire.

Omaha’s Old Market is a quaint mix of shops and restaurants, many housed in the brick buildings built in the 1800s and early 1900s in downtown Omaha.

This area is special not only for the people of Omaha, but also for anyone who visits Omaha annually for the Men’s College World Series.

An eclectic collection of bars, gift shops, boutiques, galleries and eateries canvas about a 10 block area — and in the upper level of many of the buildings, equally unique apartments and offices.

To say it’s a gem would be an understatement.

It finds its past — and its present — securely anchored in an era that thankfully didn’t know a thing about cookie cutter construction.  It has forged its footing deep, juxtaposed against the steel and glass and precisely-designed modern buildings that surround it.

The Old Market has offered itself up as the backdrop for countless wedding proposals, graduation photos, family dinners, farmers’ markets, romantic carriage rides, street performers, college pizza runs and summer strolls.

It is believed the explosion happened Saturday afternoon below M’s Pub, a beloved steady since 1973.  The pub sits in part of the main level of a massive brick building.

Investigations are still underway, but it is believed that a struck gas line possibly triggered a series of events that led to the explosion, which led to the fire, which destroyed the massive building.

It took firefighters more than 30 hours to consider the fire completely extinguished.

More. Than. 30. Hours.  Think about that for a moment.

Did I mention the temperature was frigid the entire time, turning water to ice, ultimately leaving the shell of the building — and everything around it — encased in ice?

So what lessons from this devastating event could we possibly apply to marriages struggling sexually?

I know. You think I’m stretching a bit.

You won’t when I’m done.

LESSON ONE: Pay Attention to Your Instincts

It is believed a main reason NO ONE died in this fire is because an aware waitress at the pub took action as soon as she smelled gas.

She asked her coworkers if they smelled anything.  Even when they initially said they did not, she trusted her instincts and went outside to talk to a contractor working nearby.

She asked if they struck a gas line, and they told her they had.

She immediately went back into the restaurant to tell people to get out and to tell the kitchen crew to cut the gas to the stoves and equipment.

She trusted — and followed — her instincts.

The lesson for marriage? When it comes to something that doesn’t seem right in your marriage, trust your instincts — at least enough to investigate further if there is a serious problem or a minor problem.

How many serious sexual struggles could be prevented because we heeded the warning of initial struggles?

How many marriages could be saved because of paying close attention to fixing and healing what has gone askew as soon as (or relatively close to) when it has first gone askew?

LESSON TWO: Help Is Not Far Away

I was watching a press conference about the fire, and a fire department official — nearly in tears — said he couldn’t express enough gratitude to the nearby businesses and restaurants that invited firefighters and other first responders into their establishments.

Food and coffee and floor space and tables and warmth and encouragement abundantly flowed throughout the duration of this wearisome and dangerous battle.

The fire department official also sang the praises of the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, primarily made up of volunteers who head toward tragic events like this as vital on-the-scene support.

As if that wasn’t enough generosity, strangers showed up with cases of Gatorade and food — and many other businesses in the Omaha area contacted the owner of M’s Pub to say they want to help however possible.

My point for a marriage struggling sexually? Help in time of need is often not far away at all.

You may be quick to think that sex is a topic that Christians shouldn’t discuss, especially if there is sexual disconnect and discouragement in your marriage.

But there is no better time than now to find solid Christian resources on sexual intimacy and sexual healing.  There are numerous books, ministries, and resources — specifically by Christians for Christians — all about sex.

Help is not far away.

But you have to do your part and walk in the direction of help. You will find reassurance and renewed energy to tackle the struggle at hand (just like those firefighters found support when they needed it most).

LESSON THREE:  Sometimes We Don’t Know What We’ve Lost Till It’s Too Late

I cannot begin to tell you how devastating it is for Omaha — and particularly Old Market regular patrons — to lose M’s Pub, not to mention the other businesses destroyed and the apartments on the building’s upper levels.

Isn’t that always the case?

When we lose something we treasure, we begin to deeply reflect on its significance to our lives.

When we can’t go back to how it was.

When we can’t take one more in-person glance at something that was etched in our memories.

It’s hopeful that M’s Pub and the other tenants affected by the fire will rebuild and again thrive in the Old Market.  If the shell of the building can be saved, maybe devastation of the interior won’t sting as bad.

But you and I both know, there is now a dividing point.

Before the fire.

And after the fire.

That’s true with devastated marriages too.

Some married couples never resolve their sexual struggles — they either merely exist in a marriage void of authentic sexual intimacy OR they go their separate ways through a divorce.

But whether they stay together in an empty marriage or go their separate ways, they likely could look back on a time when their love was intense and rich — and they’ll grieve it may be too late to save what was lost.

Do any of these three lessons resonate with you?  Why?

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Copyright 2016, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.

10 thoughts on “3 Vital Lessons for Sexually Struggling Marriages from a Really Big Fire

  1. Sarah says:

    I will probably get destroyed for saying this, but as relatively new reader of the blog, may I make a general comment on the comments? There seems to be a general theme of anger leading to comments that shock me like insulting the woman you supposedly love by calling her a “beached whale” while you complain to the entire world about her as several men have. Women tend to sound as though they are justifying their bad behavior of whatever sort it is. I am not better than anyone else and certainly have my own struggles as I have already shared, but I must say that neither of these actions strike me as very loving.

    Reading the comments often sound very self-focused and ‘what can I get out of my spouse’. I may get baned, but the truth is that I could hardly believe at first that mostly Christians reply. Everyone, Christ endure horrible suffering, pain, and torture for us. I have not been the model wife by any means, but it seems to mean that we should inject a healthy dose of self-sacrificial love wit our spouses.

    I didn’t get married for what he could do for me. I got married to have the great honor of being able to serve the man I loved my whole life through. I got the sex part wrong, but by God’s grace, we are changing. Maybe if we really loved our spouses that much more even if they never love us in return, we would grow so much and learn so about Christ’s love that we would find our happiness in Him instead of being focused on our discontent – and believe me I could complain about my man too….but he could also really complain about me. Why don’t we focus this year on unconditional love between both husband and wife. Won’t everything else fall into place? Maybe I am too naive, but I would much rather lie with my head on his chest even if he read on his phone the whole time and did not listen to a word I said, rather than be without him or be estranged from him. Maybe we should focus on small blessings like the fact that I get to pick up his socks and underwear every morning. That means he’s still with me. I’m not a widow and he’s not with someone else. Anyway, I am just trying to say, maybe like Julie says, appreciating what we have can make an enormous difference.

  2. Julie Sibert says:

    @Sarah… thanks for taking the time to comment! I agree with you that often the comments sound as if there is much anger and frustration behind them.

    I’ve kind of taken the route of approving almost all comments, even if I disagree with them, mostly because I want to keep the dialogue going. I generally don’t approve comments that contain vulgarity, crazy theology, etc.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing a glimpse of your story. Being vulnerable and transparent and encouraging makes a difference!

  3. Anonymous says:


    I hope I never referred to my wife in the way you describe. A lot of men look at this blog even though it expressly says “Encouraging WOMEN toward healthy sexual intimacy”. So technically, I shouldn’t be here, and shouldn’t be commenting. I’ve probably been married longer than you’ve been alive–over 40 years–so I guess I have a right to some point of view.

    Many men come here because they are seeking answers, after incredibly long periods of sexual rejection. (I see women writing on here about the same thing, too.) The pain of outright rejection must feel like a stinging slap in the face. In many cases, these are people who have endured years of it, decided to go on–for children, or because of the pain of divorce, but probably because they honestly love their wives, and the most powerful way most men can share that love is through sex. (Many of us wait for the marriage day, eager to be able to be able to do so, only to find that that was never the intent of the other spouse. Not in the least.)

    And, there are probably a few who honestly don’t see the things THEY do to lessen the levels of intimacy that they themselves seek. Do they try to meet the emotional and relational needs of their wife? Do they help with the running a of a household and family? I dare say that some don’t, and then expect some bedroom fun at the end of the day. But many do.

    I am encouraged by your comments about Christ, that we should life in a self-sacrificial way, as Christ did for us, as He suffered for us. However, in some cases, the marriage situations described have spouses doing that and they are still suffering wholesale sexual rejection.

    I think when you hear something really mean–the beached whale comment–you are hearing the searing pain and frustration of hopelessness in a marriage. I am pleased yours is looking up, but remember we are all in some continuum from bad to astoundingly great. Some may be struggling from the bad side and need a place to vent–with hopes of better things to come.

    Good luck and blessings!

  4. Debi says:

    This post is one of your best yet. Thank you for taking the time to allow God to speak to you through your sadness providing a powerful metaphor for marriages. This could apply to all issues we face, whether sexual or emotional. Just look at the tongue and the fires it can cause. I’m going to think on this one for awhile.
    Love what you’re doing here, and I pray you’ll get to go back to the Old Market someday.

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  6. JustWant2BOne says:

    Great article and analogy of what happened to the market. I’m grateful that waitress spoke up when she smelled gas and that lives were saved, even if the fire destroyed the historic building. I just want to give someone hope tonight if there marriage has been affected by a “fire” or if one spouse thinks something is really off. I wish I had listened to my “gut” sooner but I told myself it couldn’t be true or couldn’t have been so, but had I listened to my “gut” I would have found out that my spouse had had an affair 4 months after it started not a whole year and a half later. He told me he had ended it at one point, but went back to her when he became frustrated with me. But I did finally confront my gut feeling and I am sure he was shocked that I found out because it was a long distance affair, but sadly they did “hook up” twice when I was trusting and oblivious of the dark secrets. But I said I wanted to give someone hope. It has taken time for me to heal and our marriage to heal, but God is able to heal ALL things. I thought an affair was an automatic death sentence to a marriage and it didn’t help that my husband decided he wanted a divorce rather than to do the HARD WORK in repairing our marriage. But after starting divorce proceedings, my prayers were answered and God changed his mind regarding getting a divorce. He was not leaving me for the other woman and in fact her husband didn’t even know. I thank God for answered prayers. But the intimacy after the “marital fire” that burned down our marriage isn’t where I would like it to be and it’s been al I am GRATEFUL for this blog and a few others that God has brought in my path the last few years. I wish my husband would be more focused on what I need and want and I sometimes do still once in a while feel like sex is “just for him” but I know it’s for BOTH of us. Sometimes he is unselfish and other times he is selfish and it’s hard to make love when he seems to lack emotion or doesn’t want to kiss me during lovemaking, just sex without kissing. I have been learning over the years to ask for what I want, but I don’t always receive what I truly desire or need from him, but I still cling to hope. I know he does love me and I am grateful for a “new marriage” that was rebuilt out of the ashes. I never thought it possible to have a deeper connection after something devastating as infidelity but I am thankful for a new level of friendship and closeness that has been developing the past few years and thankful infidelity doesn’t have to mean a death sentence for your marriage!

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