Psalm 139:11-12

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. (PSALM 139:11-12)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Intimacy Issues

"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death..." (Song of Solomon 8:6)
"Intimacy in marriage is a love bound by promises, pure and unwavering...This love in a holy, God-honoring marriage is as strong as the powerful (but negative) experience of death." (Dr. Harry Schaumburg "Undefiled")

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one. And it's true! No one has had the same experiences I have had. Sometimes I feel lonely, like there is no one else that understands how I feel. I know that is a lie. Jesus struggled. He suffered. He has been where I am and where I am going. Still, in the quiet of our struggles it is easy to feel very alone.

My reactions to my childhood sexual abuse were unique to me. I did not become promiscuous. I did not act out rebelliously. And although I do believe there had to be signs that something was awry, they were not significant enough for my parents to think anything of it. As an adult, who has been dealing with the ramifications of the abuse for many years now, I have always wished there was a blatant sign or a red flag that would have initiated counseling or help. More then anything I think my parents just weren't equipped to understand it and people weren't really talking about it back then either.

The symptoms stemming from the abuse have become more or less a private struggle for me. Intimacy, specifically physical intimacy with my husband. For others, emotional intimacy with other people. Whether physical or emotional, intimacy issues can get in the way of God's relational plan for you. And it only gets that much more complicated when you throw in sexual betrayal by your spouse.

God's plan sometimes seems comical to me. For someone who prior to working through the sexual abuse stuff wanted nothing to do with physical intimacy to marry someone whose sexual desires were off the charts in the addiction side of things is crazy and amazing. In many ways, the fact that my husband and I were on the extreme ends of the sexual spectrum has helped us both with our sexual issues. But it has also made it very difficult. Sex has become for us our number one struggle in marriage.

A sexual addict is not looking for intimacy. Schaumburg's book "False Intimacy" discusses how it is an "intensity over intimacy" thing. Sexual immorality has nothing to do with intimacy. It is not about being known and it's not about love. It's about using others for your own satisfaction.

Likewise, someone who was sexually abused as a child by a trusted person may as an adult decide (perhaps subconsciously even) that they don't ever want to open themselves up to being taken advantage of again. Intimacy is a scary proposition because you must fully trust and allow yourself to be known completely, hopefully without shame. In my case, it is not for lack of desire. And through a lot of hard work, my husband and I have been able to have meaningful intimacy together. But so far, the struggle has not left me and I want to understand what it is deep inside of me that makes me feel like being known, exposed and unguarded, is not okay.

I often wish I could find someone else that feels the way I do about intimacy so that I don't feel so alone. If you struggle with physical or emotional intimacy, I would like to hear how you have overcome or dealt with it in your life/marriage. Would you consider emailing me?

"Real intimacy for the glory of God has a built-in secondary vital purpose of protection from sexual temptation. This doesn't work if you're only having sex for the sake of sex, which always leads to the lust for more and possibly for illicit sex. It will never work as a prevention if the wife feels like a sexual object and lacks interest. It will powerfully work if a couple is "on the same page" sexually, spiritually, and relationally, enjoying the interpersonal harmony of God-given passion." (Dr. Harry Schaumburg "Undefiled")

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