Help for wives with past sexual abuse

Unfortunately, there’s a high likelihood that many wives reading this devotional have experienced past sexual abuse, either in childhood or due to a forced sexual situation as an adult woman.  I can relate to this myself.  I was sexually abused by several men over many years of my childhood.  As you probably know, this can cause real problems for you in terms of desiring to be sexually active with your husband.  Yet, it’s so vitally important to build a vibrant sex life with your husband.  What’s a wife to do?

Here are 5 things that have helped me along my journey:

1) Determine in your heart and mind that you will not let evil steal from you yet again.  Evil stole your innocence once before, but decide that you will not cooperate with Satan’s plan to steal the sex life from your marriage.

2) Coach your soul.  The psalmist David often talked to his soul and reminded his soul of truth.  We can do the same thing.  Remind your soul that your husband cares for you….that he will not hurt you…that you are not being forced…that you will actually enjoy loving touch from your husband….that you can relax in your husband’s arms.

3) Ask your husband if he will allow you to be the one who initiates sex.  That way, you will not feel like someone is suddenly forcing himself on you.  (However, you do need to initiate then!)

4) Ask your husband to progress slowly, giving you plenty of time to truly warm to his touch.  In other words, you might need extra time before transitioning from kissing to touching of breasts, etc.  Also, ask him to stop for a moment if you say stop.  You need to know that, unlike your childhood experience where you had no control, this time you have control over your body.

5) Decide not to dwell on the past, but choose to focus on what is good and right and pure in your husband and in your marriage.  This is what Philippians 4:8 tells us:  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Your husband’s “nothing box”

Sometimes, men are so hard to understand!  When we first see our husbands at the end of our work day, whether working away from home or inside the home, we LOVE to talk about how the day has gone.  We eagerly await our husband’s arrival so that we can share the details about the children, the crazy thing the neighbors did today, the weird stuff that happened at work, etc.  We LOVE to verbally process the day with our husbands.  But guess what?  Most men are not exactly excited about having a long conversation with their wives as soon as they walk in the door.  They long to spend some time in their “nothing box”.  Huh?

It’s hard for women to understand a man’s need for his “nothing box” because most women don’t even know what one is!  I’ve had a few men explain it to me in two different ways.  It can refer to most men’s uncanny ability to think about absolutely nothing…to completely zone out! It can also refer to a man’s need to have down time where he can veg.  Here’s the basic idea.  After a long day at work, most men need to enjoy either quiet or mindless activity in order to decompress from their day.  This means your husband probably doesn’t want to hear the fascinating details of your day as soon as he walks in the door and he probably doesn’t want to talk about his day either…at least not for a while.

So, give your husband some space when he first walks in the door.  Greet him with a smile and a kiss and then allow him some time in his “nothing box”.    You will become more beautiful to him.  God says this to wives in 1 Peter 3:3-4, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…”

Rebounding from heartbreak or trials

Almost every wife will eventually encounter a tough time in her marriage.  We’re all going to experience heartbreak and challenge in our lives in general.  The question is this.  Why are some people able to bounce back from adversity relatively quickly, and why do others seem to remain stuck?

At the risk of you hating me 🙂 …I’ll be honest and let you know that I tend to be very resilient.  After an initial period of shock and grief, I’m usually able to quickly pick myself up, dust myself off and move forward.  After pondering this ability with God, allow me share a 3-word insight that might help you become more resilient too.

I trust God.  Period. Three little words that mean everything!  I have decided to believe that God is in control and that His ways are perfect.  I have decided to believe that God can and will bring something good out of my hardship.  This is what we learn at the end of Joseph’s painful story in Genesis, where Joseph proclaims in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”   I also take heart from Romans 8:28, where God says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

I can bounce back because I trust God and because He says He will never leave me nor forsake me.  Do you truly trust God?  It’s a decision you get to make, and it makes all the difference.

Learning to trust husband again

Betrayal in marriage is so devastating.  Betrayal takes many forms…adultery, use of pornography, excessive gambling, alcohol or drug abuse, etc.   If your husband betrayed you in some way, you know the resulting heartbreak first-hand.  If your husband has finally repented of this behavior, praise God!  However, there’s almost always a secondary, deep issue that needs to be dealt with…regaining trust.  That’s because betrayal is almost always engulfed in lies.  The husband who has an affair does so in secret and deceives his wife about his whereabouts.  The husband who has an alcohol problem usually drinks secretly and lies about his drinking. 

So, how does a wife learn to trust after betrayal?   Well, the first part is up to you.  You must clearly communicate what you need from your husband in order to begin to trust him again.  Here is what I suggest.  Let him know you will only be able to begin trusting again if you see him taking actual steps toward serious accountability and recovery.  I would also let him know that he needs to show that he is willing to do the hard work of recovery over the long haul, not just a few weeks.  This is the essence of Matthew 3:8, which instructs us to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” 

You need to see fruit, week after week and month after month.  That “fruit” may involve long-term counseling, a treatment program, long-term involvement with a 12-step group such as AA, etc.  The fruit should also mean willingness on his part to honestly account for his time, money, and computer use.

All that being said, remember to treat your husband with the same kindness, compassion and humility that you would want him to treat you if you were struggling with an addiction or had stumbled in some major way.  Your husband is NOT your enemy!  He needs you to encourage him, while also firmly requesting that he do the hard work to regain your trust.