Intimacy

baby's feet

IN MY TWENTIES, I did not know that most couples, upon losing a child, end up divorced. Nor did I know most couples struggle to get back to where they were before the horrible event happened.

 

My husband and I were told lots of people lose their babies and we would have more. They said the right thing to do was to put this tragedy behind us. 

 

Please, whatever you do in life, do not believe this lie or give the same advice. You cannot fix pain, but you can go through pain. And if it’s not your pain, say nothing more than “I’m so sorry for your loss.” 

 

We did as we were told. We cried for ten days, and then we focused on the future without speaking about our daughter again. As a result, our relationship changed. We traded talking from our hearts to “housekeeping conversation”. 

 

We also stopped having sex. At first I thought it was my body, which was repulsive even to me, with saggy boobs and stretch marks all over a droopy abdomen. Then I thought he avoided me to be nice and let me heal from a C-section. 

After three months I was hurt. After six months I was angry. 

 

And after a year, I didn’t care. 

 

My little brain analyzed the data and reminded me of the truth I carried my whole life: I don’t matter.  

 

Eighteen months later, we visited my doctor who turned his little calendar wheel and told us the date we conceived the child we would have seven months later. “No,” I said. “It was two days before that.” He winked at my husband and said, “That must have been a memorable night.” I felt myself shrinking and my face reddening, as I thought to myself No, it was the only night.  

 

If only I had told the doctor, maybe he would have recommended some counseling or other help, but I was too ashamed to admit the truth. What happy couple doesn’t have sex? 

 

I had also accepted the lack of sexual activity as an additional punishment from God—the first being the death of our daughter—because I had divorced my first husband. I figured since my first husband and I had sex twice a day for the two years we were married and the year before out of wedlock, I was destined to a life of celibacy. 

 

Not to worry because I had followed my husband’s lead and turned my attention toward my work where I excelled in real estate. Without a punch clock I was able to work long days and come home like my husband—too exhausted to be anything but cordial. 

 

I didn’t realize it until years later, but we were simply holding each other up, back-to- back, and over time we fell into a rut of the “normal” life of good people with responsibilities to manage. We certainly looked normal, with successful careers, a beautiful, healthy son, and the house in the suburbs. We went to church on Sunday mornings and visited friends and both extended families often and could talk about news, weather, and sports with our cordial smiling faces. 

 

It would be many years before I connected the dots to see that intimacy and sex is not the same thing. While sex can be intimate, it does not guarantee intimacy, and without intimacy, sex is reduced to a mere physical act, which often diminishes in marriage. 

We never had sex again after conceiving our son, and if we had understood or even known that our intimacy was slowly killed off by our inability to share our very real thoughts and feelings about the death of our first child, and ourselves, I think our marriage would have been saved. 

 

I cannot say he was my best friend by the time we divorced, because we didn’t communicate like best friends after years of nothing more than housekeeping conversation in the solitary confinement we devised, but I also couldn’t say we didn’t like each other or if pressed, that we didn’t still love each other. 

 

The truth is we were dead, and dead people hide in their secret reality. Secrets are the antithesis of intimacy—“Into me you see”. 

Confess to one another so that you may be healed.—James 5:16

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”—Mark 10:6-9 (NIV)

2 Corinthians 1:3-4,2 Corinthians 1:9,Hebrews 12:1-2Psalm 107:10-16

As always, it is my intent and hope that my words may encourage you wherever you are in your journey.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below or go to the group tab above to share your own experience. It only takes a minute of your time to register (and you can be anonymous), and your words may help others.

If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.--Jesus (Mark 4:23)

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