Building and sustaining intimacy in marriage is extremely important to the health and success of marriage. After reading a few articles about this subject, they confirmed that husbands and wives often have different perspectives on intimacy, but can help each other in navigating this critical aspect of marriage (hence why we combined this section into one).
First, we must understand intimacy is more than sex. The top three areas that bring closeness between husband and wife are emotional intimacy (sharing feelings), spiritual intimacy (praying together) and physical intimacy (making some good love). The last is only enhanced by the strong presence of the first two. The commonality? Intentional time.
All of these take time to cultivate and there is always work to do. So, what is intimacy?
GOD designed us to be intimate with him above all and in turn with his people. Intimacy is the foundation for love. The scriptures tell us that we were created in his image, meaning, we were created with the same desire and capacity for intimacy. In fact, this is evident in the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit being so intimate that they are one!
Because of this desire, that intimacy between spouses is a driving force in marriage. We desire it so much, however, the biggest issue lies in how we perceive and interpret intimacy. While we are no counselors, many counselors confirm that most men view and define intimacy as sex, while most women view and define intimacy as the quality of time spent together. Marissa and I can definitely attest to this based on our experience. Husbands view intimacy as a time where they can connect with their wives at a very intimate sexual level. Wives, on the other hand, look at intimacy as everything else…except sex! Romantic dinners, long walks on the beach, a get-away weekend, all seem to describe what most wives view as a way to intimately connect with their spouse.
It is no surprise that GOD’s design for us to experience intimacy in our marriages encompasses both husbands’ and wives’ views and even more. We were introduced to the “into-me-see” breakdown of intimacy in May at the Marriage University Retreat hosted by Reid Temple AME. As mentioned in the introduction, total intimacy involves three dimensions, emotional, spiritual and physical.
The spiritual dimension addresses the only place where our deepest desire for intimacy can be met. A part of developing a healthy marriage is understanding that our spouses are humans too. They will stumble, they will not fulfill every commitment made, they will hurt us, and the list goes on. Only GOD can meet our intimacy needs in every way and consistently throughout all time. In fact, this is what heaven is described to be as, living intimately with GOD throughout eternity. So in our individual and couple devotions, prayer and service, we develop this level of intimacy with GOD. As the most significant area, it is also the most challenging. In the Garden of Eden, man, they had it made! But they traded that for the ‘greener grass’ on the other side of the fence.
With this level of intimacy being healthy, we can address the emotional dimension to intimacy. We can love as Christ commands us to love. We can shower our spouses with grace and mercy and patience. We can encourage and build them up. This leads us to being open and transparent and allowing each other into the deep aspects of us. With our guard down, completely free from our insecurities, painful scars, past experiences, then we can return to Genesis 2:25, Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame (NIV), the third dimension to intimacy, the physical.
Because we are selfish and sinful, total intimacy is not natural. Developing and sustaining total “into-me-see” requires intentionality – daily, dying to self – daily and honoring your marital vows – daily!