This week my husband, “T,” is going to tackle one of our survey respondent's questions from the husband’s perspective. I'll take on another, related question about how T reassures me of my attractiveness to him.
Can our husbands ever see us as [as] physically attractive as the other woman or are they just settling?####
T (Dawn’s husband): God designed sexual intimacy to bond a husband and wife. When a man uses pornography or lusts, it literally fractures his mind, as we are only designed for one such connection. In God’s infinite grace, he made our minds able to heal. As a man becomes willing and able to focus his sexual energy exclusively on his wife, sexual intimacy strengthens that bond and is healing to his mind and spirit. At the beginning, this requires a very intentional effort. The husband is breaking decades-long habits. He will need help from God and brothers who share a common passion for freedom. If he can fill his heart with the things of God, then the old addictive patterns will lose their power.
There may always be women/images that threaten to trigger the old responses. Even healthy men (of which there are sadly few) need to guard themselves in our sexually broken world. However, any such triggers will become obvious counterfeits and empty temptations whereas our wife holds a newly discovered world of depth to explore. As we reach new levels of health, our wife becomes alive to us in a whole new way that is deep, satisfying and exciting. We become increasingly incapable of separating any part of her physical appearance from her as a whole. This holistic attraction is deep, profound and exclusive – far better than any brief, hollow high that comes from objectification.
I do want to warn wives that this healing process is long and difficult. It is a marathon and not a sprint. Husbands need to have a spark of determination. If they muster it, God will grow it into a fire. Sadly, some men never take up the challenge.
Dawn: I devote an entire chapter of Beyond Betrayal to the healing power of intimacy... ‘cause it’s a biggy. Next week I’ll answer a question about sexual reintegration therapy. The answer will dive deeper into this issue of how to promote bonding via sexual intimacy. Stay tuned!
What does he do now to assure you that you are attractive and beautiful?####
(You mean besides writing amazing answers like that one above:-) ?
I have to say that while “do” is important, “be” is even more so. T was always looking for the right thing to “do.” So what I was looking for were behavioural changes that would stand the test of time. I was also looking for those little things that there’s just no faking.
In the first category (behaviours shown consistently over time) I’ve been blessed to see massive changes in these areas:
- Frequent words of affirmation (including some that go beyond skin-deep)
- Frequent initiation of lovemaking (I never initiate now… one of my boundaries)
- Focused attention on me during lovemaking (more on this next week)
In the second (no faking) category:
- Eyes that sparkle when he looks at me
- Genuine smiles when he sees me
- Sexual arousal during intimacy (we can fake it… they just can’t)
At my request, T had tried to make changes in some of these areas in the past. However, his double life and addiction were in the way of success. Starting late into his second year of recovery, some of this stuff began to just naturally happen. Frequency rates increased over time and here at recovery-year five… he looks like a totally different person.
Be aware that how healing these kinds of changes are, is also dependent on us. It’s probably taken just as many years for me to accept these good gifts of T’s into my heart as it’s taken for him to develop into the kind of person that gives them automatically.
Next week Donna is going to answer the question: If my husband is not having sex with me, I assume it is because he is not attracted to me. How can I feel good about the way I look when he is unresponsive?
I'll also dive in with more on sexual reintegration techniques.
If you have a chance, please participate in the the most recent survey I'm conducting with JHJ on Spiritual Crisis.
Love in Hard Times - Jars of Clay