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.
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.