God’s Word clearly directs that we are to love one another and esteem others above ourselves. Among many scriptures giving these directions is Ephesians 5:2, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
Ephesians chapter five instructs us how to live wisely with love for one another. Regarding marriage, wives are told to submit to their husbands “as unto the Lord” (verse 22). Verse twenty-eight instructs that husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. “The two shall be one flesh” as the husband loves “his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (verses 31,33).
Things go sour when we lose focus of the only source of true love, Christ, and our understanding of how to love becomes skewed. Satan uses daily challenges of life against us to distract us from Christ distorting our understanding. Our follow through concerning marital love is compromised when either spouse loses focus on their relationship with God and/or one another.
Satan used lifelong perceptions against our marriage. My husband had never taken great care of his body. As the epitome of the classic overachiever, besides working my body too harshly, I tried to eat right and exercise to maintain health. Because of my body image issues and my husband’s lack of care for his body, I struggled to love my husband and his body how God intended. I prayed for years about this hindrance in our marriage and individual walks with Christ.
Although we never broadcast our physically intimate relationship or lack thereof, everyone in our lives seemed to know that we had no sex life. One day my boss with whom I had a very professional relationship expressed concern to me before work one day that I had a God-given need to be held and cherished by my husband. Immediately I felt like I had a huge banner across my forehead exclaiming my no-sex marriage. I was so embarrassed, confused, and infuriated at the same time. I wondered what showed this man that I was not held by my husband. Did I behave uncomely toward him, coworkers, or patients? I evaluated everything and came up with nothing. I never asked him how he knew, and in fact didn’t respond that day but with a few tears and a red face that I couldn’t hold back, but as time went on, this type interaction occurred more often with a variety of people in our lives. Since I wasn’t prone to discuss this aspect of our marriage with others, I knew outward evidence showed that it was miserably lacking natural affection.
Our marriage suffered a tirade of satanic attacks that attempted to completely sever what God had joined together for our good and His glory. My husband’s obesity and correlating health problems mixed with my body image issues and health problems which challenged physical intimacy seemed a recipe for hopelessness. I prayed for years desiring to see come to fruition the God-honoring marriage my husband and I had envisioned at the start. After years of growing farther apart, our marriage seemed beyond repair. I almost gave up and planned to leave my husband.
With my strong will, God knew the only way to stop me in my tracks was to allow me to be too sick to carry out my plan. I began getting much sicker the summer of 2016, and my health kept taking deep dives. Though I was very sick in 2017, I was still determined to leave my loveless marriage if things didn’t turn around. I felt that my husband was a non-communicative zombie. I became too sick to work in 2018 halting my plans to abandon the sinking ship.
Our marriage grew more divided over the next couple of years as we suffered many attacks individually and as a couple, all intended by satan to sever our relationship. I prayed for our marriage and for my husband in very specific ways but never for our physical intimacy. I had never prioritized this part of our relationship and for years tried to have emotional and spiritual intimacy with my husband apart from physical intimacy. Our emotional and spiritual connection was weak and fell easily to attacks, disabling our work for Christ. I had tried to separate what God designed to work jointly.
God has blessed our marriage to grow stronger than ever over the past few months despite all satan’s efforts to isolate and weaken us. We have been married for twelve years and grew so distant from one another for eleven of those twelve years. God has not only answered my prayers for my husband and our marriage but also heaped blessing upon blessing upon our marriage that I didn’t ask for. He has healed and corrected so many wrong views and unhelpful tendencies in our relationship. He has used His recent blessings to teach us the importance of being united and intimate in every aspect to be truly woven together in love as one, strong enough to withstand all satan’s attempts to destroy us and our relationship which God ordained.
God’s precious words to Israel through the prophet Isaiah come to mind: “Hast thou not known: hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28-31).
We utterly failed to love as we should in our marriage, but we never threw it away. We hoped against hope because we believed God’s promises to be perfect and unfailing regardless of what we saw in our circumstances. And now we are truly reaping the blessings of holding on and trusting God’s promises. So often we questioned and prayed for understanding not seeing how anything good could come from our broken union, and God heard our prayers, answering in His perfect timing. We may never fully understand why the promises were hindered for so long, but we know that God is perfect and trust Him fully with our lives and our marriage. There is no greater peace than knowing though we continue to be attacked, we are fortified with renewed strength by waiting upon the Lord.