I have walls.
Walls, tall and thick. They come up more often than I’d like to admit. They even come up with my husband.
I feel these walls rising most often when he and I enter into intimate moments--emotional and physical.
I hate these friggin walls.
But they keep coming.
So what do I do?
Sometimes I let them stand strong, and I don’t really listen to what he has to say or I allow my mind to wander while we kiss.
What I wish I chose every time (and aim to do most of the time) is address my walls--these barriers from being as close as I can be.
I don’t want these walls no mo’
Here is something I’ve learned: most often, I’m the only one in the way of enjoying intimacy.
The second part of that lesson is that the more I let my guard down and trust that my PARTNER is FOR ME, the more I’ll be able to receive and give emotionally and physically.
The primary culprit of tension in our marriage has been my lack of trust in his love for me.
So, how does this guard come down during sex or a deep conversation? I have a few strategies that have helped me learn to be fully present in the most intimate of moments (because I want to be as close as I can to my love).
I set mental reminders to relax, breathe, and trust. Anytime I feel my mind wandering during sex or during a conversation I mentally jolt myself back to the present moment. I choose to observe the moment--his kisses and his words. Then, a few deep breaths.
Reflect on all the times your spouse has cared for your heart and your body. Sometimes I tense up during sex. I don’t always know why, but I think it has to do with being afraid of losing control. My husband has always sought to serve me, but sometimes I forget. In the moments that I recall all his good intentions and actions I’m able to be present and let go. He is trustworthy. He will not judge me; he’ll only love me.
3. Open up.
I find it funny that I fear revealing my fears. Sharing these negative thoughts is embarrassing and challenging. However, once I expose a fear or an issue it shrinks. It’s terror loses power and my husband is able to remind me of his love for me.
Real life moment: for a few months of our marriage I feared divorce. There wasn’t a real issue that lead me to believe this. I just fixated on it and kept this fear to myself for a long time. It weighed on me. This single idea made me feel so far from my husband. Once I opened up to him about this fear it’s as if it were erased. You know what? He was so kind and gentle in his response.
4. Own it.
Let your spouse know your fears are your own (let’s consider this part two to #2). You want to address these negative ideas with him or her so it doesn’t become an actual issue. (If there is an actual issue please seek professional guidance. You and your spouse are worth it.) Chances are if you graciously share about what builds these walls your spouse will walk with you through your healing.
5. Be gracious.
Ask disarming questions of yourself and of your spouse. When it comes to being the recipient of vulnerability, be gentle. Ask the questions that reveal your interest in his or her wellbeing. Avoid a defensive answer and it will build trust in you. Then, offer grace to your spouse and yourself whenever you are accusatory.
6. Call yourself out.
This is a tip I learned from my therapist, so you could say this tip is “professional grade” wisdom. Call yourself out when you don’t know how to be vulnerable. This shows that you want to be close to your spouse and are open to learning how to be closer.
Call yourself out when you have been accusatory, when your guard is up, when you feel flustered, or (the most common) when you feel disengaged. This may sound embarrassing at first, and sometimes it is, but really, honestly, this reveals your desire--your good heart to be as engaged as possible. Let your spouse know, “hey, my mind was wandering during sex. I want to be better at engaging with you because I love you so much. Help me work on this.” Not exactly like that, but, you know, in your own words.
Try it. See how these seemingly small actions and mindsets change the way you and your spouse feel during your most intimate moments.