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September 12, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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I bet you weren’t expecting this topic, especially since it’s not February, the “month of love,” and many of us are working overtime trying to get ready for summer vacation. Sometimes we just don’t have time for intimacy in our marriages. Maybe intimacy in your home has grown cold, stale, or commonplace. Sometimes health concerns or issues from our past cause us to have fear or anxiety every time the issue of intimacy comes up. Maybe it’s been days, weeks, or months since you have felt connected to your spouse. Or perhaps you and your spouse regularly put in hard work to keep intimacy a rhythm and practice in your home. One way or another, this is an important topic that is worth your time!
It is my hope that, regardless of what season you are in, reading this will give you fresh ideas to evaluate, and even celebrate, this area of your marriage. As you read, judgment or shame should not enter your soul; we all go through seasons of disconnectedness in our marriage leading to a break in intimacy, and we also have mountaintop experiences and wonder if our intimacy could ever get better. So please read on with excitement, regardless of where you are. Dream, pray, and consider how God challenges you to build intimacy in your marriage.
Intentional intimacy? What exactly does that mean? “Intentional” means doing something, or creating a plan to do something, with an express or deliberate purpose or intent. The other half of this phrase, “intimacy,” we will define using the phrase: “into me you see.”
What do I mean? Well, I’m not just talking about the act of sex, which you might say is the possible end result. I’m also talking about what leads up to this level of intimacy—a deep understanding, tender affection, express knowledge, and an ability to serve, listen, speak, and share any area of your soul without any hesitation. It is the very expression of Genesis 2:23-25: a naked soul that feels no shame has the ability to be truly intimate to the fullest extent, which allows us to fully experience God’s intention for intimacy.
Accomplishing this level of intimacy in your marriage can be achieved, lost, and then established again, over and over. For some, this up-and-down rhythm can create a feeling of disdain or lack of hope. If you are in a season in your marriage that lacks intimacy, I would encourage you to really consider why. Is there a pattern that can almost be anticipated? Take time to consider how you could break that cycle through repentance, offering forgiveness to your spouse or asking your spouse to forgive you, releasing past hurts, and starting fresh.
Intimacy is a trust that is much like equity. If you have nothing in the account, then you are bankrupt. Just as you have to build equity to have an account, you also have to rebuild trust when it has been broken. Begin a conversation with your spouse offering a reconciliatory olive branch and a hope to provide peace. Offer forgiveness, receive forgiveness, consider the broken pattern, choose to make a different outcome, and believe your spouse can change.
Proverbs 13:12 (NIV) reminds us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Essentially, when we set aside hope, or cast judgment, we drink our own poison and invite sickness into our soul. Hope is a medicine, powered by the redemptive blood of our Savior. Trust Him and let Him change you and your spouse. He is the reason for our hope.
The act of intentional intimacy begins as soon as you wake up. Learning what your spouse needs, desires, and hopes for is the key to each others’ hearts. Study your spouse. Love Languages, written by Gary Chapman, is a great resource. Knowing your spouse’s love language will help you communicate love and intimacy in a way they can easily receive. Have you ever done something that doesn’t seem to have an effect? It can feel very frustrating! Learn what works for them! When do they like their coffee? Does dishes in the sink bother your spouse? What about the trash, car, or even the gas tank? A mid-day call, a cute emoji or surprise flowers can go a long way to let your spouse know you were thinking of them throughout the day. My wife and I create a list of house projects at the beginning of the year and then plan for them as the funds become available. When I follow through on my commitments, I become the most attractive man to her. When I go against my word, something happens deep inside of her. How about you? Have you discovered what makes your spouse tick?
Over the years, I have learned that my motivation in doing something cannot always revolve around my desire to have sex. I pursue my wife and do the things I know she desires because I love her. If you only do things for your wife or husband in order to get what you want, you are headed in a bad direction. Serve your spouse because you love them—because you desire to see joy on his or her face. Remember why you love them, and never lose that tender affection that drives you to unlock your spouse’s heart.
Are you thinking what I’m thinking? If I want to love my spouse like that, I also have to love my creator like that. How is your affection for your Savior? Is your passion for Him fresh and relevant or has your hope dwindled? Take time to drink from the well of water that will never leave you thirsty (John 4:14). Your Savior is always waiting and ready to refresh you!
As we discussed before, intimacy is about emotional closeness, not just sexual fulfillment. A book I recently read, Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero, details a practice that may challenge you. He intentionally sets aside time every day to have physical touch with his wife. He is not referring to sexual touch alone; just face-to-face, body-to-body touch. Regardless of what is happening, they spend 20 minutes per day talking and being together. Depending on your season of life, this may sound easy or it may sound impossible—especially if you’re in a season of raising kids. No matter what stage of life you’re in, I would challenge you to try to allow God to lead you in that practice. Sit in silence, look into each other’s eyes, tell each other about your day, hold hands, get close, and see what happens. Expect to see into each other’s souls and let the rest work out.
As you develop intimate knowledge and desire for each other, your sexual passion towards each other is bound to grow. Patiently building a foundation of intentionality in your love will prepare you for that opportunity that God has given to married couples of true intimacy that leads to a satisfying sexual rhythm in your marriage. Don’t be afraid to talk about sex together as a couple. Discuss your likes, dislikes, and even frequency. After you have built a good level of trust, take the plunge and have open and honest dialogue so that, over the years that God gives you together, you can truly learn each other physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. This may mean planning this kind of intimacy—setting aside your date night, nights alone without interruption, or times in the day that you plan to intentionally do this. Be strategic, if necessary, and agree to what nights this can take place. Allow yourselves to grow into lovers that truly “know” each other in the deepest, most tender, and most holy way.
The heart of this message is being sent out to you with the prayers of our Married Couples team. We want you to know that we are available if you ever sense that you need to talk about this topic. Our church hopes to cultivate a culture of healthy marriages that would shine a light towards the cross of our King Jesus! Live for Him today by loving your spouse—it speaks volumes to a dark and dying world!