Talk, Don’t Assume
Assumptions got me into trouble early in my marriage. They still do, except they happen less frequently now. I remember, on more than one occasion in the first few months of our marriage, thinking that because my husband spent time doing things independently, he didn’t care about me or want to spend time with me. Because of my assumption, I stopped initiating and I stopped telling him what I needed and wanted.
Some of this was our adjustment to marriage and learning how to manage our time and hobbies and also learning to appreciate and understand our personalities. After many, many conversations, I asked my husband to show me why he loved certain hobbies, and I know I can just ask my husband when I need and want his attention.
It sounds silly. I could’ve just said something and I would’ve had what I needed, but instead, I allowed myself to wallow in my self-pity and self-deception and kept on assuming. It took me awhile to understand that assumptions are disrespectful and detrimental and counterproductive.
Let’s first look at the definition of assume. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines assume as “to think something is true or probably true without knowing it is true.”
Immediately, I see two problems here.
Assuming is just laziness. When you assume, you aren’t taking the time to really know the truth, to seek answers, and you can easily brush aside the idea of “fixing” a problem, or not even realize there is a problem. In the context of the article, when you assume your partner isn’t interested in sex, you take a backseat to your marriage by passively allowing a concern to persist. This is a slippery slope to denial.
Assuming can build resentment. When you assume, you aren’t giving your spouse the benefit of the doubt. You aren’t allowing your spouse to defend him/herself. You let a supposed truth become “the” truth. This is dangerous because you might just follow the slippery slope to making a problem bigger than it is. When you do that, you might just start building up resentment in your heart.
In both of these circumstances, you are robbing your spouse of an opportunity to connect with you and for you to connect with your spouse. There are no simple solutions, and I don’t think the article is stating this, but I do think there is some nuggets of truth in here. Jumping to conclusions without consulting your spouse is dangerous because you begin to fashion in your mind a not-so-accurate picture of your spouse.
The second and greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 6:31 reminds us to treat others as we would like to be treated. You would want the opportunity to be loved and heard and respected. You would want your spouse to listen to you and talk to you and avoid assumptions about you. You should desire to do the same for your spouse.
I have 3 suggestions. These are not, by any means, an end-all, be-all solution to all your problems during a sexless period in your marriage. I am not a licensed therapist or counselor. I am not a pastor. I do not have professional experience. However, these are the things I have found to be proven true, helpful, and solid during dry spells in my sexual intimacy with my husband.
First, talk to God. Take your concerns to the Lord first. Pour out your heart before Him. Ask Him for a gentle heart when speaking to your spouse. Ask Him for peace and protection over your conversations and your marriage bed. Ask Him for humility and a willingness to listen. Ask Him to help you both through any hurts, doubts, or barriers that may be prohibiting you from being intimate with one another. Ask God to give your spouse an open, willing heart and ears to listen. Ask God to show you an appropriate time to speak with your spouse. Ask Him for the courage to be honest, yet respectful with your spouse. Ask God to help you cast aside any assumptions and listen for and to know the truth.
Second, talk to God with your spouse. Pray together before you talk about difficult subjects. Ask the Lord for His protection and to surround you both with His holy army of angels. Ask Him to place a wall of protection around your hearts, minds, spirits, and bodies – to keep any forces of evil and distractions out. Ask Him to place a wall of protection around your marriage bed, your bedroom, and your house. Don’t be afraid to be very specific with your requests. God wants to hear everything. It’s not like God doesn’t already know, but this act of praying is powerful, and prayer demonstrates you are actively participating in communion with God and you seek Him with humble hearts. Ask God to cast out any spirit of laziness or denial within you both, to cast aside any assumptions, and to give you a naked vulnerability with one another spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
Third, talk to your spouse. Let your spouse know how you are feeling. Be honest and vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to talk about pain and frustrations, but be sure to keep the focus on your feelings and experiences and less on your spouse’s failure to initiate or have sex. Try not to talk too long so your spouse has time to process and respond.
Ask your spouse to explain what is hindering you two from sharing in intimacy. If they don’t know, pray about it or give them time to think it over and agree to come back and speak about it later. Ask your spouse if there’s anything you are doing or not doing that isn’t helping the situation. Try not to be defensive here, but listen respectfully.
When it’s your turn to speak again, briefly recap what he/she said to make sure you understand and ask for clarification where you don’t. Spend time brainstorming together about solutions to your struggles (and this can be done separately after the conversation also). Schedule a time to come back together to check in and talk more.
James 1:19-20 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
Give your spouse the opportunity to talk and explain. Genuinely listen. Try to avoid defensiveness, but instead take a moment to breathe and think about your words if you’re feeling attacked or you are misunderstanding. Be slow to become angry – and don’t become angry based on assumptions. Why do all this? Because God desires righteousness from you. Ultimately, the purpose of marriage is to become holy and united, not to be happy and problem-free. Work through the pain and the struggles and open up your hearts to one another to talk, not assume.
Be hopeful and humble. While you have conversations, try for physical contact like holding hands or hugging while praying. Recognize this may not be fixed in one conversation session. It may take many, many more. If the conversations appear not to be helping after a certain amount of time (and there’s no right or wrong amount here… this is really just personal preference and after asking God for discernment), you may need to consider speaking with a physician or seek counseling together.
Author’s Note: This is Post 1 in Tips for the Dry Spell Series. It’s been a few weeks since I addressed the issue of dissent and a particular article about sex on my social media and the blog. I thank you for your patience as I’m in a busy season of my life.