Thursday, December 4, 2008

Feeling the Strain and Getting Back on Track

I'm a real glass is half full kinda gal. It's my nature. I know that gratitude and focusing on the good is a good habit to be in. However, Delighted Husband had an interesting point the other night when he told me he thought perhaps I created a false sense of expectation for you dear readers and us by thinking that DH and I are smokin' the sheets every single time. I was very impressed by Delighted Husband's insight-he's a smart guy and a deep thinker. I've always been very candid about my own story, my own feelings but I've always been very private when it comes to Delighted Husband. I want to respect his privacy. So it's beautiful and interesting and new when he says he wants to give me more freedom to speak more openly about some of our intimate times together that don't quite feel like the 4th of July. Every good beautiful moment that I've blogged about is true and really happened. (boy oh boy did they ever!) but we have our off nights and our misfires and our mixed signals like everyone else. And Delighted Husband tells me he will be wanting me to share about that from time to time. We're shooting for the sweet spot that's good and not perfect, accessible not unattainable.

I'll never blog like Debbie Downer. I don't think I could if I tried. Sex is too beautiful. But there's something to be said for balance, and grace and flexibility. We are human after all. Like all humans, stress affects us. We can learn good coping skills for stress, frankly I think lovemaking is a wonderful coping skill for stress. Whether it's tender or aggressive, lovemaking the bonding the connecting, the endorphins the pleasure the release can all add up to TREMENDOUS stress relief.

But what if the lovemaking doesn't work? What if you're "us" doesn't work? Oh My God the stress that can cause. Somewhere in month two of our house being in dissarray and in various stages of repair and construction, the stress of Delighted Husband's demanding job and long commute, the stress of my long working hours building the store, wanting to offer my best for the team, talking to vendors for the store, managing the reconstruction project for our home, giving good effort to self-care at the gym, continuing to eat sober and not use food to stuff my feelings which means there are these emotions to deal with and mannnn are they damned inconvenient! and next thing you know, I'm a grouchypants and everything Delighted Husband does in the simple foibles of life gets on my last nerve, and everything I do in my simple human foibles gets on his last nerve and there are kids who need us and their life is topsy turvy too with the house all under construction and next thing you know, we've got two people who love each other and desperately need to get laid and who unfortunately are very pissed off with each other in the present moment. Lord have mercy Jesus!

So what did we do? We hauled our angry asses off to counseling and we duked it out with kleenex and talking. And we made love every chance we got. And it did not always go so well. When the emotional climate between Delighted Husband and me is good, it is very easy for me to get aroused. When the emotional climate between us is "off", he can touch me in the usual favorite ways and I don't feel the same feelings..the same emotions or sensations. If I feel awkward in my heart, I feel awkward in my body. And I think he does too.

Here's the thing that I often remember and when I do not I wish to JesusGodAlmighty that I had:
When that fine line is crossed and discussing and disagreeing becomes heated arguments and two heartsore people trying to make their point, the beautiful erotic climate is gone. Heated arguments hurl words and angst like throwing rocks. It's like a greenhouse whose glass pane is broken by a rock and all the lovely warm moist air rushes out and it's cold and dry inside and the delicate breathtakingly gorgeous blossoms and the tender green shoots inside start to wither. I love that symbolic image of orgasms and sex being blooming plants inside a greenhouse being the intimate climate of a marriage, because orchids grow in a greenhouse and we all know what orchids look like, don't we? (grin) Seriously y'all, the erotic intimate climate of your marriage must be protected, or you'll lose some delicate gorgeous glorious pleasure and oneness and joy and it will take a while to get it back. How long it takes is up to the two of you, but it will take a while.

Luckily, there's grace.

Grace came for me in the form of my dear dear friends who let me come unraveled in front of them and gave me a soft place to land. I called my friend that lives overseas on skype, buried my face in my hands and just sobbed. Every few seconds, they would reassure me "Oh love, everything will turn out all right."

Grace came for me with a handful of girlfriends that I could share honestly with and tell them the prolonged stress we'd been under had affected Delighted Husband's and my sex life. Not that I shared TMI, but golly moses, some friends would consider just the last few sentences TMI. But not these girls. These dear women. They told me, "So you're human, so what?" and hugged me and prayed for us.

Grace came for me when I was picking up clutter and tidying our bedroom, I was literally on my knees making the bed when a book on the book shelf in my nightstand literally fell off the shelf, to the floor and fell in front of my knees. It was my 9 year old dog-eared copy of The Power of a Praying Wife. I may not be a rocket scientist, but I knew this was God talking to me, so I stayed on my knees, grabbed hold of the book, and knelt at my bed in prayer. Being me, and considering what was bothering us, I flipped to the chapter on His Sexuality, and I prayed this prayer:
"Lord, bless my husband's sexuality and make it an area of great fulfillment for him. Restore what needs to be restored, balance what needs to be balanced. Protect us from apathy, dissapointment, criticism, busyness, unforgiveness, deadness, or disinterest. I pray we make time for one another, communicate our true feelings openly, and remain sensitive to what each other needs. Keep us sexually pure in mind and body, and close the door to anything lustful or illicit that seeks to encroach upon us. Deliver us from the bondage of past mistakes. Remove from our midst the effect of any sexual experience—in thought or deed—that happened outside our relationship. Take away anyone or anything from our lives that would inspire temptation to infidelity. Help us to "abstain from sexual immorality" so that each of us will know "how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (1Thessalonians 4:3-5) I pray we will desire each other and no one else. Show me how to make myself attractive and desirable to him and to be the kind of partner he needs. I pray that neither of us will ever be tempted to think about seeking fulfillment elsewhere. I realize an important part of my ministry to my husband is sexual. Help me to never use it as a weapon or a means of manipulation by giving and withholding it for selfish reasons. I commit this area of our lives to you, Lord. May it continually be new and alive. Make it all you created it to be."

And I started to feel a tiny spark of hope in my heart. I remembered the condition of my heart nine years ago when I first prayed that prayer and I took inventory in my mind of all the good things that had come from that since then. I thought, "heck I should just pray all the prayers in this book", so I flipped to the beginning chapter "His Wife". That's when I got a real shellacking because wow was I convicted of my sulky attitude! Get a load of this excerpt from the Chapter His Wife:
"I Don't Even Like Him How Can I Pray for Him? If you are angry at your husband, tell God. Don't let it become a cancer that grows with each passing day. Instead say, "Lord, nothing in me wants to pray for this man. I confess my anger, hurt, unforgiveness, disappointment, resentment and hardness of heart toward him. Forgive me and create in me a clean heart and right spirit before You. Give me a new positive joyful loving forgiving attitude toward him. Where he has erred, reveal that to him and convict his heart about it. Lead him through the paths of repentance and deliverance. Help me not to hold myself apart from him emotionally, mentally or physically because of unforgiveness. Where either of us needs to ask forgiveness of the other, help us to do so. If there is something I'm not seeing that is adding to this problem, reveal it to me and help me to understand it. Remove any wedge of confusion that has created misunderstanding or miscommunication. Where there is behavior that needs to change in either of us, I pray you would enable that change to happen. As much as I want to hang onto my anger toward him and as much as I feel it is justified, I want to do what You want. I release all those feelings to You. Give me a renewed sense of love for him and words to heal this situation."
Whoa Nelly. I have to tell you, folks, I felt peace after I prayed that prayer. I felt drained of the poison inside me. I felt hope. I felt like it could and would get better between us. I love him so much, always have, but for a few days there we were like two porcupines trying to get warm. We wanted cuddles and we kept getting and giving ouchies instead. It was awful.

So, once I got the toxic sludge out of my heart, all kindsa good things happened. My girls kept on praying and lemme tell you what happened next.

My office is in an alcove of the living room, so I get to work close to the fireplace. And as I've told y'all before, every year when it's cold enough to switch on the furnace, I move the Zepplin pillow downstairs in front of the fireplace. So Delighted Husband was lounging on the Zepplin pillow enjoying the fireplace while I was working at my desk. He looked so sweet and relaxed and handsome, and my heart just lurched in my chest and I felt tenderness towards him. I stood up from my desk, and walked over to him and knelt down and straddled him, lay my arms on either side of his body reaching up to hug him and I lay my head on his stomach and just let myself be. We felt so peaceful and calm. The atmosphere of safety and good connection perfumed the air around us. The warm humid healing air was filling up our greenhouse. The warmth of the sun was shining on our wintry cold greenhouse. It felt so good. Nothing erotic at this point. Just love and healing connection. Delighted Husband started murmuring and petting my hair with his hands. The feeling his of his palm wrapped around my head cradling me with his palm like a baby just melted my heart like buttah. I felt so truly safe for the first time in days. ohmyGod.

After a few minutes, Delighted Husband got up from the Zepplin and went upstairs to tuck the DC in bed. I laid there relaxing and feeling safe. I was feeling safe and good and normal but zero horny at this point. Zee-roh. I know this might sound spooky, but sometimes I feel God talking to me in my heart. And I felt this tug on my heart to take off my jogbra. I figured listening to that still small voice has given me only good so far, so I stripped off my bra and just lay there relaxing. I began to anticipate and wait for the sounds of Delighted Husband's footsteps coming down the stairs. I felt eager. I felt eager to surprise him. I felt eager to see his delight on his face. I did not at this point feel horny or overt sexual desire. I was just eager to see what good thing would come from following that still small voice in my heart. Sure enough, Delighted Husband came down the stairs, walked into our bedroom, and not finding me there, he walked into the living room. He took one look at me sprawled on the Zepplin pillow wearing nothing but running tights and a sneaky smile spread over his face. "What are you doing?" he asked. "Waiting for you." I replied.

In 2 seconds, Delighted Husband shucked off his clothes. I lost the running tights.

Grace came for us in the form of a shagfest that relieved us body and soul. I experienced firsthand that Dr. David Schnarch is right when he says that once the initial conflict is resolved properly, sex can be a verry healthy way to rid yourself of aggression. Oh my God, is he right. I came to my belief that night.
In the midst of our glorious rowdyness, I distinctly remember thinking:


I won't tell you what I said after that~I'll let Neil have the last word.


Sally said...


Mr.Mizer said...

Isn't it great to have a marriage with Christ as the anchor. Sounds like you two are back on track.
Hopefully after your house is back in shape some of that stress will be relieved.

Anonymous said...

What a great testamony. Thanks for sharing.

I think we all go through ups and downs in our marriages. We have experienced the same thing. Good hard sex takes away a lot of tension.

HappyWife said...

Man... I can so relate to all of that! Thanks for sharing.

Desmond Jones said...

Lots of wisdom here, Shula.

One of Molly's bits of earthy wisdom is 'sex is a renewable resource'. If it ain't great this time, there's always next time. That's part of the beauty of being married - there isn't this great pressure for sex to always be amazing, because there'll always be a 'next time'. . .

And even if it ain't incredible, it's still 'unitive' - it still binds us to each other. . .

And sex IS a great healer of (married) souls. Molly never considers an argument over until it's been 'consummated'. . .

Who am I said...

I hope you tell your husband that this husband really appreciates your honesty in sharing all of this.

It just makes what your write seem so true to how life and marriage really are- some great times, some not so great times even in good marriages.

Felicia said...

You know what's funny. I just told my friend this morning I don't know how can anyone be married w/o God as the center. My husband and I go through our ups and downs, but with God in the middle it makes those downs a lot easier to handle. It's nice that your husband is allowing you to be more open in your blogging. I think it's important to be as transparent as possible. We go through stuff not only for us, but to witness to others, that's what I use blogging for and I try to be as transparent as I possibly can. It's nice to know that even those who are happy and having the best sex in the world have down times and there is nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

I needed to "hear" some of what you said. Thank you.

Tulipsanticipation said...

After a very heated argument last night we did make up and have very good sex and all seemed well with the world.

But not forever, not even a day. And so it circles.

When his mind's off in his own world somewhere and he forgets about plans made earlier in the day for sex I have a really hard time making myself vulnerable and being the one to initiate. I take it personally and am hurt and lash out at him bc of it.

So this was definitely something I needed to read now, and it seems to simple, but man is this letting go of things so tough!