HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY PATHEOS! Patheos has asked us to re-post favorite blogs from the past 5 years. Here’s one I wrote almost exactly 2 years ago–it’s still true.
What does it mean when you desire a hot fudge sundae more than sex with your loving, gorgeous, faithful, and servant-hearted husband?
When I was still nursing my 2nd child, I attended a women’s conference with the goal of talking to friends about nurturing my marriage while having zero sex drive. One friend, a former missionary in Africa, said, “That’s why polygamy always made sense to me. If one wife is nursing and has no sex drive, the husband can go to another!”
I attended the tail end of a workshop on the developmental stages of marriage just in time to hear Marilyn, a wise sage in our ministry, close in prayer and turn to leave. Shoot, I missed it all! And then she returned to the podium, “One more thing, if you’re not having sex regularly with your husband, your marriage is already in trouble.”
Whoa. . .
The next morning I sat with Marilyn at breakfast and said, “Wow, that was a doozy way to end your talk.”
“Kathy, I literally felt the Holy Spirit push me. I told Him, ‘But I closed in prayer!’ but He pushed me back and said I had to speak. Since then, I’ve been approached by about 30 women who say they’re no longer having sex in their marriages, and some haven’t for years.”
So sex drive or no sex drive, with Marilyn’s advice ringing in my head, I’ve tried to be faithful in nurturing this part of my marriage.
And sex within our committed marriage covenant has been a very good thing. It’s good to be naked and unashamed with my husband. Staying comfortable with one another’s body helps us stay comfortable emotionally and spiritually. I think of sex with my husband as a spiritual discipline much like observing the Sabbath, a spiritual discipline that enables God to breathe life into our marriage.
But all that theology doesn’t change how 99.9% of the time I’d still rather eat a hot fudge sundae than have sex, just like 99.9% of the time I’d rather check email than pray. Between peri-menopause, teenage kids, my job, his job, groceries, cooking, chauffering, etc. sex can easily feel like just another obligation and chore.
Last night, I discussed this ongoing topic with a couple girlfriends. One said, “You do want sex! You want to be connected with your husband, you want to feel bonded, you want your marriage to grow, you want to make him feel good. You do want it!”
Yes, but I FEEL my hunger, even lust for chocolate on a daily, sometimes even minute to minute basis, in a way I don’t about sex with my husband. I can spend all day thinking about what chocolate I’ll nibble. My mother-in-law says no one should eat chocolate before lunch, and I generally follow her direction, but that doesn’t stop me from coveting chocolate-almond croissants for breakfast.
Yet as we talked, I remembered that the actual experience of chocolate often disappoints. For all of the anticipation, Trader Joe’s sea salt and turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds can leave me hollow. Sure they taste good, but not mind-blowingly good. And with last swallow, that See’s dark chocolate California brittle didn’t change my life, make me happy or calm my anxiety.
“Hah! Chocolate is the lie!” said my friend, “You want it but it doesn’t deliver!”
“And sex is the truth?”
“Yeah! Sex bonds you with your husband, grows love, brings connection and you feel great afterwards. Sex is the truth!”
Who knew? A new mantra for marriage and life.
Chocolate is the lie. Sex is the truth.