I remember talking to a friend right before I moved from my hometown and away from my marriage. “If there’s one piece of advice I can give you,” she said, “it would be to not rush into another relationship.” I assured her this was the furthest thing from my mind, but she insisted. She had thought the same thing when her previous relationship had ended, she explained, but she had surprised herself with becoming sexually free very quickly. At the time, I thought her advice was unnecessary. But looking back now, I’m wishing I had taken her comments to heart.
My husband and I were in our early 20’s when we married. We both came from Christian families and had both, miraculously, saved ourselves for marriage. Divorce was the furthest thing from our minds, let alone sleeping with anyone else, but within a few short years this became a reality and let me tell you, it was not pretty.
I’ve come up with all the excuses in the book for why our marriage ended. We were too busy, I was depressed, we were stressed financially, he was controlling. But really, it all boils down to the fact that neither of us was truly maintaining our relationship with the Lord. Our faith walks were religious, not personal. If God had been our focus and our passion, the worldly definitions of success wouldn’t have widdled us down and exhausted us. If God had been our center it would have been easier to fight through the dark valley we were struggling in.
To separate myself from my husband, I moved to a new city and started my life. I thought the new, carefree world I had created for myself was where I was supposed to be. My focus remained on the worldly definitions of success and happiness which quickly influenced my new relational status. Three months later, I found myself in bed with someone I should not have been with. This was the first of many casual relationships that I would enter into in the following two years of rebellion, none of which were satisfying or long lasting.
I’m surprised, looking back, how easy it was for me to jump into the lifestyle of promiscuity. I had never been that girl and it went completely against my morals and even my desires. I pretended for a while that this part of my life was fun and exciting, but deep down I knew something was wrong. Even though these encounters lead to fun girl-talk with my friends, I would cry myself to sleep at night, my heart aching for something more meaningful. I had never felt more alone, empty or directionless.
Finally, my hardened heart became soft for the Lord, and I listened to the instructions I knew He had been giving me all along. God grabbed me back with a vengeance, and I am so grateful for His unconditional grace and love.
Sex after divorce is such a difficult subject. Even if we had saved ourselves for marriage, our bodies are now awakened to the sexual world, and it’s hard to turn that tap off once it’s been opened. Even though your sex drive is a very powerful part of you, I’ve realized the drive I’ve felt after divorce goes even further than that. Sex is attractive, yes, but intimacy is even more attractive.
“Sex is attractive, yes, but intimacy is even more attractive.”
I had realized it was the search for intimacy that was driving me to get involved in casual relationships so quickly. I was craving that closeness, to be known and appreciated by someone like I had been with my husband, for my heart to be felt by someone else’s heart. It was a long and painful, even damaging, learning curve to see that these relationships wouldn’t bring anything close to the true intimacy I was actually searching for.
In coming to this realization, I knew that I had to withhold myself from sexual relationships outside of marriage. Not only was God asking me to do this, but I knew that logically it was what I had to do if I wanted to find a truly intimate relationship. God was asking me to abstain, not to enforce a rule, but because He knew how destructive non-intimate relationships were on my heart and how they weren’t where I would find what I was looking for and what I truly needed.
The world defines intimacy as a sexual encounter, to be ‘intimate’ with someone. But really, casual sex encounters have no intimacy in them, and I would argue that any sexual encounters outside of a marriage hold very little intimacy, if any. I’ve had sexual interactions within marriage and outside of marriage both in casual relationships and committed relationships. From first-hand experience, I stand firm on the opinion that sexual intimacy outside of marriage in any form cannot be compared to what it is within the boundaries of marriage.
It’s unfortunate that I had to experience this first hand in order to learn the importance of waiting for sex within the boundaries of marriage. Yet I do know that I am forgiven, and grace has been poured over me. My past sin has been erased, and I am clothed in pure white before God.
I still struggle with being a sexual creature, I am still tempted, and I will admit that I have fallen to that temptation even after God has shown me the truth of my actions. I share that honestly with you because there are so many of us who are now divorced and trying to navigate this new world of relationships. It is a difficult path but with God’s strength helping us, it’s not impossible.
-Katie Smith, 33, British Columbia, CA