soul-nakedness, part deux

After posting about soul-nakedness last week, I realized that some might desire this closeness but not know where to start in order to achieve it.

Short of telling someone to “pray your guts out,” I was stumped. So I decided to compile some ideas; some of these things we have done intentionally, others we have done accidentally, but all of these things God has blessed and given a liberal dose of His inspiration.

As a woman, I had to get over my sexual hang-ups. I had plenty (see Intimate Issues ). I had to decide that my marriage was worth the sacrifice and that I wanted to be more free. I began to read and God began to remove the scales from my eyes.

Part of my hang-ups included being unable to express my love and passion for my husband as I should have been able to — by initiating intimacy. As awkward as it was (and sometimes I still struggle at bit with it), I had to do it. He had to know that I desired him sexually and that this wasn’t just some temporary “get your hopes up”-thing I was trying. It’s still a work in progress for me, but I’m getting there.

As a man, my husband had to finally have the desire to be ‘clean’ from his addiction become greater than his need to go back to it. He had half-heartedly wanted to be free for years — well, he wanted freedom, but there was a draw back to the comfort zone of his self-medicating because he hadn’t addressed the real issues with which he struggled.

As a wife, I had to begin to look for new ways to encourage and bless my husband. This meant going outside of what I “knew my husband was like” and learning about his love language. Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages was helpful, but I also knew my husband wouldn’t sit down and read an entire book like that. I found an online quiz that was quick and opened the door to conversation. (As an aside, if you haven’t read Chapman’s book, I really recommend it. It can make an enormous difference in your marriage and family life.)

Once the conversation was started though, I had to step out of my comfort zone (literally) in order to speak my husband’s love language and remind him that I loved him.

His love language is Words of Affirmation, and so I did some of the following:

added a text-messaging plan to our phones so I could text him love notes. Was it an extra expense? Yes, but it was minimal. And he is worth the $4.99 it costs us per month.

began to use an instant messaging program so we could chat while he was at work

pushed myself past my initial discomfort/shyness to have “phone sex” with him while he was away on business

I began to look for extra ways to show my affection: refilling his coffee cup when I refilled mine; offering to do more chores together (as opposed to feeling entitled to a little “time off” from household chores), etc.

I also began to take super-short siestas in the afternoon so I could stay up later with him and talk. Sometimes it was reading a book aloud together, other times it was just talking about the day or what God was doing in our respective hearts, and other times it was an intentional effort not to fall asleep too early (if you catch my drift 😉 ).

In response to these things, my husband was initially caught off-guard and had the “deer in headlights” look about him. Well, that and a silly grin on his face. 😎 But he quickly began to respond to the new levels of attention and I found my love language (Physical Touch) spoken in new ways that he hadn’t before.

Because we were dealing with incredibly sensitive issues and things that dug up the past and had strong potential to hurt each other, we had to make a conscious effort and decision to leave offense on the shelf. We chose to process the information we discussed in ways that would release the other spouse from blame, and I had to consciously pray that God would allow me to grieve for the appropriate things (loss of innocence, pain of hiding, etc.) instead of grieving for myself and what his revelations meant to *me*. Because it wasn’t (and still isn’t) about me, any more than my former eating-disorder and eating-disordered-thinking was about him.

As we dealt with the emotional baggage we were unpacking, we made sure to protect each other from outside influences that would judge, harm, or misunderstand the other and his/her needs. We “circled the wagons” and gathered a protective ring of friends who would pray for us, encourage us, and hold us accountable when things got tough. For those of you who are reading this, thank you. You know who you are, and we haven’t made it this far without your love and support. But the intentional protection we provided for each other was (and is) crucial and looked like this:

We permitted a free-flow of tears, as necessary. We probably kept Kleenex in business single-handedly during this time, but we had to insure that emotions were protected and given the sacred respect they deserve.

When our son was privy to some of the emotion and/or saw or heard things his little mind didn’t understand, we explained them gently and concisely. We didn’t give him information on the sexual assaults and/or the abuse we have dealt with, but we did let him in on the idea that the Holy Spirit was healing us and that God’s work is sometimes accompanied by tears, sadness, and happiness all at once. By bringing him in (partially) to the wagon-circle, we prevented him from blabbing things that didn’t need to be blabbed out in public. He understood the seriousness of what we were experiencing and kept quiet in the presence of those who weren’t in that circle.

We did ‘status checks’ with each other to see how the day was going and/or what God was speaking to each of us. If there was something difficult to process, we did it together, but if it was an inconvenient time for one of us, we gave each other permission to ‘shelve it’ until it was more convenient and we were together.

Ultimately, I think when a couple is committed to a new level of intimacy and soul-nakedness, it encourages and spawns things that are appropriate and work within the context of their marriage. Some spouses sacrifice and help clean fish for dinner after the other has brought in a haul. Others pen poetry for their spouse or find romantic ways to enhance The Mood. But when there is a new level of commitment and expectation in the relationship, both spouses tend to “bring it” and rise to that new level.

If you are seeking this type of connection with your spouse, the very best thing I can tell you to do however, hearkens back to the beginning of this post:

Pray your guts out and ask God to show you what to do next.

He will, because He created this level of intimacy, this level of commitment, and this is what He wants to see in a marriage.

His and his,
~Cori.

This entry was posted on 111924H Sep 2008 and is filed under Forgiveness, Path to Healing, Pornography, Sexual Brokenness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

  • http://Onlinechristianshopper.com Jeff

    Thank you for the link to the 5 love languages link. I have been looking for a test like this for my wife and I.
    P.S.
    I really appreciate your blog. You are an excellent writer and I can tell that it is from the heart.

  • cori

    Jeff–

    oh my. I am humbled and grateful for your insight — and I thank you for the compliment. This indeed is from my heart and is my heart — for others to know that God is for them (not against them) and for their marriages (and white-hot, rafter-shaking sex in their marriages).

    This healing is such an intense part of us that I want the world to know that with God, it’s possible for them, too.