It Takes As Long As It Takes

I have great intentions. After the recent death of my father (and chairing a writing chapter conference in my area), I was certain I’d be back up and running last Monday. Sure enough, as usual my post went up on that day and I proceeded to catch up on one email account (not the other), cleaning my desk, and reading blogs I’m subscribed to and sharing some of those posts on social media. I was feeling pretty good.

Then the week progressed.

By the time Thursday came, I wasn’t feeling so together anymore. I’d spent a lot of time sorting through my father’s stuff (including some really cute pictures of me as a kid — mixed in, of course, with some truly shudder-worthy pictures of me as a kid). I also found myself more tired than usual, just a kind of malaise sinking over me. I read more, slept more, felt guilty more. Because what I didn’t do was write. Not here, not really anywhere.

And then two of my best friends separately said something that converged around this thought: It takes as long as it takes. They were referring to my grieving process. Because I haven’t actually cried much, I hadn’t labeled my feelings as grief. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought they were onto something. I needed to give myself some grace and let myself the hook for needing a full week to recover.

It Takes As Long As It Takes

And really, this is something we should recognize in whatever struggle we’re dealing with in our lives: It takes as long as it takes.

This is so true in our marriages, y’all. I can see this lack of grace we give ourselves and our spouses in our impatience for issues to resolve. Here are some prime examples:

How long should it take for her to get aroused? As long as it takes. Some women seem physiologically ready at the drop of a hat, and others require a lot more wooing and tender, loving care. I can look up averages and report on those, but being an outlier doesn’t make you a lesser lover.

The point is that she gets aroused, and however long that takes, that’s what you two should devote yourself to. And that means you husbands reading this, please let her have the time she needs. For most wives, if we can have a little space and time to figure out how this all works, that arousal time will shorten a bit after a while. She may still never be ready at the snap of a finger (besides fake sex scenes, who is?!), and that’s perfectly fine.

How long does it take to climax?  As long as it takes. I hear from wives who report that it seems to take forever for them to reach that peak, and some husbands feel frustrated that their wives can’t get there quicker or the wife feels guilty for taking so much time.

Get over it! If you’re slow to orgasm, consider it just more time to touch and make love. And men tend to take longer to get to their climax as they age — which can be nice or frustrating too. Lighten up on yourself and your beloved, and just reset your mind that orgasm isn’t the only perk to making love … and it will (most likely) happen for him with a bit more time.

How long will it take to heal from adultery or porn damaging your marriage? As long as it takes. When your heart has been broken, your trust has been fractured, and your spirit has been wounded, it’s going to take time to heal. Some marriages might seem to bounce back after an affair in weeks while others need up to a year. You need to be experiencing some forward progress, but I understand that jumping right back in bed with the person who sinned against you isn’t realistic.

This is also something the adulterer or porn addict needs to understand: You may have taken that brave step of confessing and repenting, but restoration requires effort and time as well. Be willing to commit to healing, but know that it’s okay if it feels slow at times — as long as you’re moving ahead.

How long before my spouse responds to my change in behavior regarding sexual intimacy? As long as it takes. This one is big in my opinion, because I often encourage people to do the right thing for their marriage and their marriage bed, even when they see no positive up-tick in their sexual frequency, intimacy, or satisfaction. That’s a hard sell, right? Because if we do the right thing, shouldn’t we start to feel the rewards?

I’m often reminded of Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” The truth is that I started treating my husband with a more Christ-like behavior months before I saw any real results in improving what was then my destined-for-doom marriage. And some of that improvement was really God changing my own attitude.

Chris of The Forgiven Wife has been beautifully transparent about her own journey of having to do the right thing for a long time before she saw improvement. I encourage you to read her story. Because she took to heart Galatians 6:9, specifically “if we do not give up.” Let’s be honest, we tend to give up too soon. When the truth is, it takes as long as it takes. And I’ve heard from couples who stuck it out and 20 years in experienced a total rejuvenation of their sexual intimacy; believe me, the spouse who was waiting for change was not unhappy that he/she remained faithful.

So I’m giving myself some grace for not being here last Thursday or Saturday, as I normally would have been. My impatient, work-driven self lost out to taking the time I needed to recuperate.

Maybe we should give ourselves some grace and let certain issues in our marriage bed take the time they need. I’m not at all encouraging complacency or “settling.” Rather, we should be intentional in nurturing our intimacy, yet patient and persevering as we wait for the good that can come.

But those who hope in the Lord
Will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

25 thoughts on “It Takes As Long As It Takes

  1. Eric Wiggin

    Good points, J. But I prefer the old KJV Bible rendering of this verse (Isa. 40:31): “They that wait upon the LORD . . . ” I also think it fits your theme better.

    Eric

    Reply
  2. sunny-dee

    My grandmother died in January, and my mom has been battling the malaise, much as you describe. I would tell you the same thing I told her (and that your friends said) — it takes as long as it takes, and it’s all okay. The way you feel is okay and if you need to cut back just to feel blah for awhile — that’s okay, too.

    {{hug}} I am so sorry.

    Reply
    1. a. nony

      “The way you feel is okay”

      YES. I can’t tell you how important it has been for my journey with depression to just accept that how I’m feeling is ok — I don’t need to deny it or reject it or push it away, I need to learn to sit with it, learn to address it, to speak truth to it. SO vital.

      Reply
  3. Bill

    Losing a parent is a significant event in one’s life, and I couldn’t imagine handling the ‘necessaries’ during this time while trying to write. Your writing is in itself a very difficult task (which you make look effortless) and is not something that can be done in a multitasking manner, especially in conjunction with the loss of your father.

    Just know that lots of folks sent prayers up on your behalf, and it’s wonderful to get notification of the latest post.

    God bless you!

    Reply
  4. Jerry Stumpf

    J, often it takes at least a month for the loss of a loved one to fully hit home. We get back to “work” and our support system usually is back to life and so we breathe.

    Then a smell, a sound, a sight or a fleeting memory brings our loved one back to center stage on our mind and wham! We sob or cry or ??????

    When my brother died, 43 years ago, I would see his Oldsmobile – at least the same color and year – go by and for an instant, “I would think, I wonder if that’s Ray …” and then reality would slam home, I would feel sad again and life goes on.

    Yes, you do an amazing job, but it will take time and the love of others to help you “get back to normalcy” whatever that it.

    Thank you for being so open for us – your fans – to see. You are a dear person who is concerned for your followers. We are concerned for you as well.

    This is a nice transition into many areas of a personas life.

    Keep it for as long as it takes! (I think someone else said that!)

    7 Special Questions A Couple Should Ask Each Other – To Improve Their Marriage http://wp.me/p50Bqq-75

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  5. Rachel

    Thank you for sharing. I have been praying for you since I read about your father’s passing. I pray you will give grace to yourself in this season.
    Blessings, Rachel

    Reply
  6. Amelia Keithley

    Thank you for this. I am a newlywed of 3 weeks and we still have not had intercourse. Not because we didnt want to or havnt tried but because of biological difficulties and a week of me being really sick. My sex drive has suddenly plumeted and I think it was because I was getting discouraged. But it takes as long as it takes and we are working together to figure everything out.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      This is not as uncommon as you might think. Remember that you have years to make love. At this point in my marriage, we have literally made love over a thousand times. So take that time and figure this out; you can make up for the lost time later. Make sure you talk to your doctor to get any physiological issues resolved, and remember there are many ways to be sexually intimate in the meantime. Blessings! And congrats.

      Reply
  7. Terry

    This has sooo been my mantra all of my life, often to others’ chagrin…finishing my homework, getting engaged, finishing graduate school, doing things correctly in general. Why must everything have a deadline? But God is showing me that this is also true in those areas I would like to speed up a bit – building a house, forming friendships, growing a ministry. And the challenge is also in, as you point out, extending the same grace to others that I expect from them.

    I still have my parents here so I won’t pretend to identify with what you’re going through; but if this principle applies to so much of life, surely it applies in death. You honor your father’s memory in taking the appropriate time to mourn him and to reflect on and celebrate his life.

    Reply
    1. Edwin

      I’m sorry you feel that way. That sure is a long time. But what is the reason? There is always an underlying cause.

      Are her needs being met, are things being done to help. How is your attitude in the relationship?

      I can relate and understand the frustration.

      There is always help and always a way to fix things. It’s if you want the help and the change.

      Reply
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  9. Edwin

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I know exactly where you are coming from. My best friend since childhood past away on the 13th unexpectedly. He was only 33. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with. Losing a parent I can’t compare to. Everybody grieves differently and at different paces. I haven’t been writing much because of his death and my person health issues. I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer the same day he passed away. Then dealing with all the appointments before my surgery to have it removed on the 17th.

    So don’t feel bad for taking some time for yourself. It’s much needed and a good thing.

    God Bless you. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      My sympathy for your loss. I pray that your treatment goes smoothly and erases all trace of the thyroid cancer. Blessings!

      Reply

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