Whose car is that? I wondered silently.
I pulled into our driveway tired and longing to slip into my old sweats and pour a glass of wine. Irritated that a yellow convertible was blocking my path, I drove onto the grass determined to get around it to park my car. I had been out of town for several days and was looking forward to being home.
The aroma of roses hit me as I walked into our front door. I noticed the lit candle sitting next to the beautiful yellow flowers on our coffee table. Our two labs ran to greet me with ‘over the top’ energized joy. I caught sight of my husband standing in the kitchen and a bottle of wine opened on the counter. Our daughter came from her room to greet me with a hug.
I soaked up every ounce of love and kindness. My evening was spent listening to stories from the week and saxophone music our daughter had learned while I was gone.
It was good to be home.
The next morning my husband and I sat in our living room drinking coffee together.
I noticed the yellow convertible through the front window. I thought it looked brighter than the night before. “Whose car is in the driveway?”
“I rented it while my truck is in the shop. I was hoping we could take a drive in the Hill Country this afternoon.”
The unexpected invitation for fun and play challenged the list of ‘to do’s’ I had in my brain. But only for a second.
“Yes! That sounds great!”
“Before we go, I need to discuss something with you. Can I have a few minutes?”
The look on his face told me what he had to discuss was requiring courage. I felt my hesitation, but dismissed it.
He delivered news that left me feeling like I was handed a live grenade. I offered my opinions and he offered his. I tried hard to hold our conflicted views but the grenade blew up. Anger and anxiety instantly joined us in our living room and I felt ‘set up’. My self-talk was harsh. “Screw the news, screw us and screw the car ride.”
I needed space and time to consider the plan I was devising in my head. Judgment came quickly, threatening to steal the goodness I had enjoyed and to end any chance of emotional connection with my husband. I felt the tension and conflicted feelings of my ambivalence. I hated my husband and I loved him…all at the same time. I was tempted to renege on the commitment I had made to join him for the fun afternoon he had planned.
“Sex is as good as you fight.” The words from a book I had read on my journey to discover truth about intimacy and sex came to mind.
“Breathe. Conflict is good. He is not my enemy.”
My self-talk began a shift to kindness.
But what to do with my ambivalence?
I considered my choices. Would I punish myself and my husband for our differences? Would I be kind to the little girl inside me who learned kindness was a set up for abuse? Would I be kind to the little boy my husband carries inside him who believed he was a failure and not enough to ‘fix’ his family?
Curiosity and grace softened my heart.
“Redeeming talk borrows hope from God to risk another encounter. In fact, not just one encounter but seventy times seven. This is the most outlandish component of marriage—the willingness to re-enter a marred terrain with hope.” The Intimate Mystery by Dan Allender & Tremper Longman
Could I trust God to care for us in our mess? Could I wait and hope for a redo? In the wait, would I allow my heart and my body to receive His goodness and pleasure through my husband’s playful invitation in the midst of our conflict?
“Will you still join me for a drive in the Hill Country?” His eyes searched mine.
“Yes. Give me an hour and I’ll be ready to go.”
The afternoon was filled with lighthearted fun. Desire for good things and the pleasures we experienced together created an emotional connection that fostered new terrain for further ‘talk’. “Verbal intercourse is meant to lead eventually to the fires of sexual play.” (More from the book). Who knew healthy conflict could lead to better sex?
You too could choose curiousity about the stories in your life surrounding sex, intimacy and conflict. You might just find yourself riding in a yellow convertible through the Texas hills.
Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 26 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.