Saying “no” to sex can be just as intimate as saying “yes”. This may sound contradictory to our blog and the streak we are so blessed to still be on 804 nights in a row. But, if I (Christina) step back and look at this word, NO, in connection to intimacy I can see how I have used it in regards to sex, how I didn’t use it and I can see a time when my No was taken away.
There have been times in my life that I feel like my NO was taken away. I have very faint memories of being sexually abused as a child. These memories feel far away and like they are not my own. This is because I live with Dissociated Identity Disorder, DID, for short. During the abuse in my youth my brain went into protection mode and parts of my own memories became hidden from me. It was only three years ago that these dissociated memories began to resurface and I started learning more about how I tick and why I behave the way I do.
So, how do I seek healthy married intimacy when my NO was taken away by an abuser?
Well, I became a “good co-dependent”, words I often say in jest now, but the joke still holds some legitimacy. Because my NO was taken away from me as a child, I spent the ages between 18 to my mid- twenties leading a promiscuous life. I was always searching for the one boy who would make me his wife.
Note the words “make me his” were not the words of a woman in control of her life, nor were they the words of a woman being led by God, but they were the words of a woman in search of a man to fill a gaping hole in her life.
I chose to give up my NO by taking myself out of the equation. I felt it was more important to have a man like me, lust me, or love me than to abstain from sex. Even though my promiscuity had begun with my NO being taken away, I still made every choice with each guy, in those adult years, to give away my ability to say NO to their advances, wants and yearnings. I gave up my NO when I knew it was wrong. In the midst of my giving in I also took away a NO once, making that past boyfriend feel pressured to go against his own moral code. Not proud choices I made, but choices I made nonetheless.
There were several guys I had relationships with and I chose not to sleep with for whatever reason, usually my guilty conscience. But, the end result the relationship was loud and the often the same for each person. No guy wants to be turned down for sex, especially if the girl already gave in once before. Some of the guys in my past understood my guilty conscience as their walking papers and thus left the relationship.
Fast forward, to 2003 when Nathaniel and I met. I had still been promiscuously searching for Mr. Right when we met; nothing had changed about my dating tactics. Fortunately this time the relationship stuck and has worked out for the past twelve years. Praise God!
In the earlier years of our marriage, way before the streak, sex was a hot topic for us. I wanted it on my terms and he wanted it on his.
But, somewhere around year eight of marriage I began to assert my NO. It began quietly, this saying “no” to sex, it was like mini pretests prepping me for the day I was going to say no, mean it and stick to my guns not letting guilt and co-dependence filter through.
I called it “Finding My Voice”.
Though I am rarely a quiet person around my house (typically raising my voice an octave or two in frustration, anger, joy or excitement) I felt meek and silent when it came to speaking honestly about sex and what I wanted and needed. Because what I wanted and needed was to simply to be heard and to have my thoughts accepted, something I did not feel I had a good grasp on regarding sex in the early years of marriage. I felt heard and accepted in many other avenues of life, just not with sex. I connect this back to the sexual abuses that I endured as a child, when my voice, my NO, was taken.
The more I tested this weak spot between us; fissures began to grow cracking open previously buried areas of our relationship.
As each crack opened and spewed out the goo from my past, we actually began to gain footing to stand on top of the gooey past, instead of becoming enveloped by it.
This happened because we were willing to talk and pray about the ugly stuff, thus creating bridges over my gooey past instead of caverns to hide in.
Over two years ago, when our streak of nightly intimacy started, I would never have been healthy enough to go forward into a streak if I had not first said “no”. My NO created a pocket of safety and understanding for us. It was a place where I knew I am heard and my thoughts accepted. Now our pocket is a place of abundant yes’s, I do know it would not have started without a few No’s.
Saying “no” to sex lead to intimate conversations and times when we were deeply connected and personal and close with each other. Through our many intimate conversations about sex we came to understand a very clear truth between us.
It is not just about sex! Intimacy is deep and multifaceted; it is a connection we share. Intimacy is the cake…the foundation and the purpose for the icing. Sex is the icing, not the reason