Today’s question about sex is from a widow. My heart goes out to her.
I had been very happily married until my husband died last fall [edited a bit to protect her identity]. How do i go from thinking as a married woman who greatly enjoyed sex with her husband, to thinking as a single woman? Is it wrong that i still read your blog and other Christian sex blogs and identify with many of the issues you and other readers refer to? How can i deal with not having sex, not feeling loved in the sexual manner and not being confirmed by my husband as a woman? Is it wrong that so often i bring to memory those incredible personal moments we had together? I don’t long for sex just anyway, i long for the sex i had with my husband.
First off, let me offer my condolences to you for the passing of your spouse. While I’ve not experienced it, I recognize this is one of the hardest challenges people go through. While you had the blessing of a happy marriage, your beloved’s untimely death is a shock to the system. I pray the following for you:
God, I know you are close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). Please comfort this widow, and others grieving the loss of their spouse, as they mourn (Matthew 5:4). Heal their broken hearts and bind up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). Give them rest from the weariness and burden of grief (Matthew 11:28). We know your faithful servants who’ve passed are precious to You (Psalm 116:15). Help us to focus on the eternal glory You have promised (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). In Christ’s name, Amen.
As for the reader, there are several questions here. Let me take a stab at each of them.
How do I go from thinking as a married woman who greatly enjoyed sex with her husband to thinking as a single woman?
I’ve heard from widows and widowers that the loss of sex is among the aspects you grieve when your spouse dies. I’ve talked a lot here about flipping the switch to go from being an abstaining single to a sexually active married, but I think it’s far tougher to flip the switch the other way. You’re used to being sexually touched, desired, intimate. And now, in addition to everything else you’ve lost, that’s gone. Your body will crave what it was used to having, particularly since yours was a positive, pleasurable sexual relationship with your husband.
But honestly, if not fed, cravings — the ones that don’t determine our life or death — tend to increase for a time, then decrease after a while. If you have coffee every single morning and quit, you’ll want even more for a while, then less. That’s not to say that you won’t crave coffee again, but it’s not so tough to go without.
I’m not comparing your husband to coffee (that would be insulting and ridiculous), but I believe our sexual desire can behave a bit like this. If we don’t dwell on it and find other ways to engage our physical selves, the sexual longings become a bit less difficult to manage. For what to do with your sexual desire in the meantime, maybe this post for singles will help.
Is it wrong that I still read your blog and other Christian sex blogs and identify with many of the issues you and other readers refer to?
No. It’s not wrong. Having been married, you certainly understand what we’re talking about here and can appreciate God’s design for sex in marriage. But continuing to read about sex could stir up your sense of loss or your sexual desire even more. If that’s an issue for you, give it a break.
Also, I know this is very, very, very premature. But if at some point in the future you start dating again, you probably don’t want to be reading sex posts while trying to keep things on the up-and-up.
How can I deal with not having sex, not feeling loved in the sexual manner, and not being confirmed by my husband as a woman?
Short answer: Find your worth and reassurance in God. Of course, I recognize that God isn’t going to literally speak to you or physically touch you, and that’s a big part of what you miss. But God can fulfill some of that absence in other ways — through the closeness and affection of friendships, through finding purposes for your unique personality and talents, through reaching out to others in need.
You are indeed a sexual being, but your “womanness” is expressed in many other ways. Not to mention that you are a specific kind of woman (we’re not all alike!), blessed by God with a singular perspective and skills. Consider where you can now spend your time and effort that affirms who you are and honors God.
Also, go ahead and appreciate your sexuality! Even if my husband is on a long business trip, I wear nightgowns that make me feel confident and pretty. I’m not expecting to get lucky of course, but it’s perfectly fine to celebrate your feminine beauty, even if it’s just between you and God. Don’t lose gratitude for the amazing body your Creator gave you — just more in terms of sensual beauty than sexual desirability.
Is it wrong that so often I bring to memory those incredible personal moments we had together?
No, not at all. Why wouldn’t you? I think you should revel in gratitude for all the beautiful moments you had with your husband, and there’s nothing off-limits about the sexual moments versus the times you just held hands and walked through the neighborhood. They are all a part of what made your marriage special and memorable. Treasure all the good memories of your time together.
I have heard that over time, the memories will come less often, but they will never go away. Your marriage to your loving husband is a part of you, and he will always be in your heart. Consider that God’s blessing for your life and for his.