In the early-morning dark, I stretch. The flannel sheets in a red-and-black buffalo check are a cozy cocoon on this cold, wintry day.
He Who Stirs Around is rummaging in his drawer. God alone knows what he’s looking for, but I hope he finds it. Sleepy, I say from my pillow, “There’s a girl in your bed.”
From the dresser, a chuckle. It’s a rumble in that bass that I love. Then this, “And she crawled into my heart.”
At long last, He Who Stirs is headed out the door. Backpack over one shoulder, he stops to kiss She Who’s Finally Stirred. As he’s walking away, I say, “In your heart and in your bed.” And again, there comes that chuckle.
“In your heart and in your bed.” Like autumn leaves floating atop a lazy creek, these words float around in my mind. And I’m thinking today how many times I have heard this view, that men are attracted by sight and women by emotion.
In nearly every “Christian” marriage book, or radio broadcast, or marriage retreat, that was the constant refrain. Men are visually stimulated, women are emotionally stimulated. What I somehow understood it to mean was that women aren’t visual and men aren’t emotional.
Men want sex. Women want relationship.
Women endure sex to get what they want. Men endure talking to get what they want. That’s what I “heard.” Over and over and over.
Well, after a long, arduous journey, here’s what I know now to be true: that men don’t “just” want sex, and that women don’t “just” want relationship. Not if they’re healthy, that is, and this is true for both parties, both sides.
Men DO want relationship, and women DO want sex, but we haven’t felt free to really “go there.” Society has conditioned us (the church has, too), and our own painful experiences have hammered in the lies. And it’s hurt so many, many people.
We are “dying for lack of knowledge,” to quote Hosea.
For all of us who have grown up in shame-based cultures where we were taught that our sexuality was dangerous at the least and evil at the worst, it can take a lot of hard work to find the truth and to accept it. To let Truth wash out the un-truths and to heal us from the inside out.
In case you think it’s been easy for me or that I somehow got lucky and have the perfect marriage, just don’t even. Envy can be a cop-out. I know because I’ve tried it. It can keep me from working on my own junk. As the Psalmist might say, “Selah.” Stop and think about that.
I know, too, what it’s like to face the trauma of sexual abuse and to peel through layers of bad theology about sex, relationships, and God. I know how it burns like fire when you’re pulling those layers back, down, and off.
I know all about the fear that it brings. How the earth seems to quake underfoot. I do know.
But. I also know (and here’s what I want you to hear, okay?) that going through the fire is worth it. I know that a marriage can go from hard to good to better and on to great. I know that you can reclaim your emotional health, your sexual health, and your relational health. I do know.
“In my heart and in my bed.” It isn’t either-or, thank God. It’s both-and. What a gift to humans, this oneness in every way.
Don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible, it can’t happen, or it’s not good. For it is entirely possible, it can happen, and it’s so very good. I have asked a kind Father to help you.
The Curly Head