By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
Does it feel like you’re living with a roommate instead of your lover? Are you two passing ships in the night?
Chances are intimacy may need to be rekindled or rebuilt.
When you think of intimacy, most tend to get right to the physical aspect of it. But, intimacy actually starts with friendship or a better word from the Bible, companionship. When you hear the word companion, what does the term signify to you? Does your spouse come to mind? It is defined as “somebody who accompanies you, spends time with you, or is a friend.” Author Sheldon Vanauken wrote:
“In Genesis 2:18, we hear these words echo across the centuries, still vitally relevant to our relationships today: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’‚” Consider that the Hebrew word for helper is ezer — remarkably, the same word used in Psalm 118:7, “The LORD is with me; he is my helper (ezer).” Keeping this idea in mind reinforces the essential role we play within our sacred partnership. The blessing of friendship and tenderness in marriage honors this unchanging truth: A wife’s loving companionship was designed by God to meet her husband’s number one relationship need.”
In other words, you two were friends first before it evolved into marriage. Reflect on the times you have felt closest to your spouse — what made the difference? Why does intimacy matter in any of these stages? It is the thread that ties a couple together.
There are three aspects of intimacy: spiritual, emotional, and physical. All three are vital for a strong and healthy marriage.
So how do you maintain intimacy with your partner for the long haul?
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The Importance of Intimacy in Marriage
One of the keys to reconnecting is understanding that intimacy is a multifaceted thing. We were created for relationship.
From the very beginning, God created us to be in relationship with him and each other. In Genesis 1:26-27, God says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”
This is the crux of relationships because God was already in relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. After God created Adam, we find God stating, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him,” because God created us for companionship and relationship.
Ecclesiastes reminds us that, “...a one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands cannot be quickly broken. (4:12).
We all have an inherent need to feel loved and appreciated by our significant others, and understanding each other is the foundation of any solid relationship. It provides both partners a sense of security and confidence when they know they have each other for support no matter what comes up.
Sex is God’s gift to a married couple as a way to experience the deepest, most profound intimacy possible— and the two becoming one flesh.
When both partners feel safe and connected, it creates positive bonds between the couple in increasing levels of intimacy. As we give of ourselves spiritually, emotionally, and physically to the person we love most, this honors the Lord. Writer, Kat Harris describes our souls being knitted for this connection.
“We are designed for intimacy. The longing to be linked deeply with others is coursing through our veins. It’s in the very fabric of our beings. God created me, you, us in the depths intimately and intricately. Everything about a relationship with God is founded from this sort of intimacy.
From those hidden and most intimate moments, nothing he has done in relationship with us is without intention and purpose. He has not made one mistake.”
Related: Listen to our podcast, Intentional Living: Being Intentional in Our Relationships:
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The Consequences of No Intimacy in Marriage
No intimacy in marriage consequences are definitely from lack of sexuality in marriage. A marriage without intimacy may not be the leading cause of divorce but the effects that it has in a marriage is enough to know how important it is in any relationship. Not to mention you are leaving yourself and your spouse open to the attack of the enemy. He wants nothing more than to destroy our lives.
Instead of flourishing in our marriage with the goal to become more Christ, we cover our marriage with dross as apathy sneaks in and we become highly critical of our spouse. Soon it will bring in its posse of insecurity, loneliness, and division. It will continue to erode your marriage and soul with other dangerous, life changing consequences.
The consequences include:
- Drifting apart
- Unstable home
- Being roommates instead of a couple
- Choosing significance over love
Karen M. Gray, author of the book, Save Your Marriage says, “You often hear it said that people have bad marriages, but in fact, this is not true. Marriage is a God instituted covenant between a man and a woman, and it is good. That has never changed. The institution hasn’t failed – people are failing to work out their problems. Couples are simply giving up and walking away, or simply have no idea what they can try next. The good news is that even 'soured' relationships can be healed. Things can change. People can change. Marriages can be better than they ever were before.”
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How to Bring Back Intimacy in Marriage
We all have an idea of the numerous effects of no intimacy in a relationship. How about the hard work of restoring intimacy in marriage?
Recognizing the lack of physical intimacy in marriage or even emotional intimacy is not a lost cause. Sex is when two become, quite literally, one heartbeat, one body, one flesh. It’s important to sit down with your spouse and talk about it.
Micheal Baker says it best “Sex is the spark that empowers intimacy and makes communication possible on all levels between a man and his wife. It was not designed solely for procreation. If we harden our hearts and remove sex from the marriage relationship, then a literal wedge of distance is placed between a husband and wife.”
Recognize what triggered the lack of intimacy and why you haven’t done anything about it. Is it due to work, kids, or stressors?
Once you recognize the problem, go to God in prayer to help protect your marriage and restore it, then commit to change.
This will include compromise, dying to your own flesh, and at times holding your tongue however this to take effort from the both of you. It should never be a one-man battle.
Bringing back intimacy in your marriage is as simple as committing to bringing back intimacy in your marriage, together. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it is straightforward. Decide individually and together that you are in this to be as close as God intended you to be—for the sake of yourselves, eachother, and all those around you that your relationship can impact.
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How to Maintain Intimacy
The first step is to be proactive about carving time out for each other. It may even take you saying, “When can we have a date this week?” or “When can we be intimate?”
The next is to ensure you both have removed any barriers to your relationship. Sometimes late nights at work can’t be avoided but it should not be a constant. Evaluate how you are expressing your love for your spouse. Other tips include:
Communicating with each other. Learn to talk to each other about how you're feeling, stressor, or whatever is weighing heavy on your heart. Learn to truly listen to what your spouse has to say too.
Touch each other more often. Touch helps couples bond physically and emotionally. Enhance intimacy by holding hands, giving back rubs, hugging and kissing, and other physical touching and caressing.
Have sex more often. Make it a priority because it benefits both of you. It helps keep you bonded and connected instead of drifting to roommates who happen to share the same bed.
Spend more time alone together. It’s tough with kids, crazy work schedules, and social distancing but marriage comes first. Plan some time together without children or family or work. It could be a simple date, a weekend getaway, alone time increases marriage.
Express your love more often. Leave notes, call them on your lunch break, or bring home their favorite treat.
Read the Song of Solomon Together. The Song of Solomon contains great ideas for sexual expression and Christian intimacy in marriage.
Pray with your spouse. Pray every day with your spouse and over your spouse. Use a couple’s devotional, in your prayer time together. Consider joining a small group that is marriage focused.
Go on adventures together. Do something your spouse loves doing, hiking, rock climbing, getting a massage, skydiving. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re doing it together.
If you’re one of the many marriages struggling to be revived and you’re wondering how to bring intimacy back into your marriage, you aren’t alone. God wants nothing more than to breathe new life into your relationship.
The first step is to admit you both are responsible for drifting apart. The second is forgive each other’s grievances and keep no record of wrongs to move forward. We’re reminded in the “Love Chapter” of the Bible to be kind and compassionate too.
This part of becoming a couple again can be a hard, difficult journey. It may be helpful to enlist the support of a good friend, pastor, or Biblical counselor. And last but not least, become friends again.
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