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When it comes to relationships, we can sometimes have a preconceived idea of how things are going to turn out. In almost every case, that isn’t reality, so where do those ideas come from? The influences of social media, movies, and culture, in general, fill our minds with images and fictional stories that create false expectations regarding intimacy. We’re left feeling disappointed when things don’t turn out the way we hoped they would.
It can be a real challenge to keep the intimacy fire burning in a relationship. Life gets busy, work can be stressful and leave little free time, and having children can certainly change the family dynamics. One thing that is key, is understanding that marital intimacy is more than just sex, in fact, there are 5 different types of intimacy, and keeping all 5 functioning is the only way a couple can feel truly connected.
The first, and most important, is spiritual intimacy. Spiritual intimacy is about first being intentional in your relationship with God. Matthew 7:24 NLT says, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
Being in tune with God’s Word will give both spouses a spiritual foundation with God individually, thus making the spiritual bond of coming together even stronger.
Second is recreational intimacy, which is the bond couples create when doing activities together. These activities can range from kayaking and biking, to simply going to the movies or reading a book together. The focus and highlight is spending time together and letting your spouse know they are a priority.
The third type of intimacy is intellectual intimacy. In the daily rat race of life, there is typically very little time to talk and catch up with our spouse, so coming home and being intentional about sitting down, possibly over dinner, and discussing various topics provides a great opportunity to connect. Whether these conversations provide an opportunity to resolve concerns, chat about the day, or just laugh together, the reward is a stronger connection.
The fourth type of intimacy is emotional intimacy. This type of intimacy is very powerful, and for some, can be very difficult. Emotional intimacy is one’s ability to share thoughts and experiences with their spouse. Unlike intellectual intimacy, these thoughts and discussions often run deep with emotion or are emotionally driven. Men, when your wife is sharing, this does not mean they are looking for you to solve their problems; they often merely want you to understand their feelings and show empathy.
The fifth type is… you guessed it, physical intimacy! Most relate this immediately to sex, but the non-sexual physical intimacy is just as important. The act of holding hands, hugging, or cuddling on the couch can do wonders for a couple's attraction and connection. For many men, they see any type of physical intimacy as a sign their wife wants to have sex. Wives, this is how God designed us, as described in Proverbs 5:18-19 NLT. That said, husbands must remember intimacy that leads to sex starts way before the bedroom.
Physical intimacy is the result of being dedicated to all the other types of intimacy that help maintain the attraction and connection with your spouse.
Succeeding at all of these, much less individually, is not an easy task, which is why starting with the spiritual intimacy is so important. When things aren’t going well, it’s easy to believe the grass is greener on the other side, which can lead to temptations that can be very dangerous. Husbands and wives must maintain their integrity during this time, keeping their eyes focused on their spouse, rather than a friend/co-worker, or spewing their problems across social media. When you get married, you become one, and what God has joined together, let no one split apart (Mark 10:9 NLT).
Has your view of intimacy and attraction been shaped by what the world says or what the Word says? Men often feel most connected when physical intimacy is highest. Women generally feel most connected when emotional intimacy is highest. Men are called to protect their wife’s heart, and wives are called to protect their husband’s sexuality. Let’s get intentional about nurturing our relationships with all 5 types of intimacy!
Go the Extra Mile:
- Schedule time together each week! Whether it’s a date night out or quality time at home, make sure you are intentional about spending alone time with your spouse.
- Make it a priority to attend at least one marriage event/conference a year, local or a weekend away. Even if your relationship is running smoothly, think of it as preventative maintenance, like an oil change in your car. Not only will you grow in your marriage, but you’ll gain new and exciting ways to work on your marriage.
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