I promised a Summer of Q&A with J, in which readers can ask questions about the sexual intimacy in their marriage and I will answer with a blog post. The topics that came in are really varied, showing our experiences run the gamut. While many marriages relate to struggling with sex, we struggle in different ways.
Yet one specific question came up again and again. Even across so many different situations, this question was often included somewhere in the email:
Will you please let me stay anonymous?
Let me first say that my answer to all of you is YES. Indeed, I set up my blog so that you may comment using the name “Anonymous” or an initial or a made-up nickname. I wanted to encourage people to engage here and not worry about sharing their private concerns in this public forum.
But the repeated appearance of this question about retaining anonymity makes me wonder about something bigger. How many times does a marriage have problems with the sexual intimacy that are entirely unknown to anyone around them? How many spouses struggle in silence and feel they have nowhere to turn? How many feel anonymous even before God when it comes to the pain they face?
Let me encourage those feeling anonymous in their marital intimacy challenges:
1. You are not alone. The problems posed to me are varied, but they are not new. If you’re a higher drive spouse longing for more connection, plenty of high-drive spouses know what you’re going through. If you’re a wife whose husband has rejected you for a porn addiction, other wives have been through the same. If you feel like your marriage is sexless and hopeless, others have been there and come out the other side with new hope and health in their sexual intimacy. I hear the tough stories, but I hear the victory stories too.
Whatever your issue, another Christian out there is facing a similar challenge. Moreover, you are not alone no matter what — because God is with you. He doesn’t promise us a perfect life this side of Heaven. But He promises us His presence, if we will invite Him in and seek His face.
“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9b
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
“Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
“Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.'” John 14:23
I could go on all day with verses like these.
2. Seek answers. Many of you are seeking answers already, just by being on my blog or other websites. Perhaps you’re reading books, listening to sermons, praying diligently — asking for wisdom for the struggle you face. I encourage you to continue.
Now I hate to be a downer about it, but I do want to be realistic — so I’ll tell you it was years between when I starting seeking wisdom and when our marriage got much better. That sounds awful, right? ‘Cause when you’re in a big mess, you think you can’t make it another day, much less years! Looking back, though, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat to get to where we are — with an intact family, renewed love and hope, and God-honoring sexual intimacy. And I know where I’d be if I’d never sought wisdom — in the pit for even more years. Who wants to live there?
You’re stronger than you think, and you can do this. And God is even stronger than that — by a long shot. So take it day by day, look for answers, and ask God to lift you up when you feel too burdened to continue. In weeks or months or years from now, you may look back and see how amazingly far you’ve come.
3. Talk to people who know you. I will offer my best advice here, but I can’t get all the details of your situation into a single post or email. It’s not the same as sitting and having a long conversation with you, or — better yet — you and your spouse.
It may freak you out to think about sharing the nitty-gritty details with someone who knows you, but they might have insight that would be helpful. Your own doctor knows your body and your health. Your pastor knows your spiritual life and has seen your marriage. A counselor can speak with you at length and find out more about what’s going on. A close friend can mourn with you, encourage you, and pray for your marriage. A mentor can keep you accountable and be an ongoing cheerleader.
I don’t know who you need in your life, but it helps to have someone who knows you and your particular situation to hold your hand for the long haul. Consider opening up to someone in your midst. Choose carefully, but you might be surprised at the welcome arms that reach out in return.
Do you feel anonymous in your struggle with sexual intimacy in your marriage? Why is so hard to talk to someone? What would help you feel safe enough to open up?