Welcome to the fifth and final installment of our Building Intimacy Series. We’ve saved the best for last!
But before we get into it, I wanted to make you aware of my other books and DVDs available for purchase.
So far we’ve looked at:
- Building Intimacy in ANY Relationship
- Building Dynamic Intimacy with GOD
- Creating Healthy, Intimate Friendships
- Nurturing Stellar Intimacy with Your Kids
In the previous installment of this series, we divided up the stages of intimacy with kids into 4 stages: Pre-School, Elementary School, Middle & High School, and Young Adult. We also discussed the four ways to nurture intimacy with children at any age: Turn off distractions, schedule regular time, enter and affirm their world, and pray.
Today we’re going to address the ultimate human relationship designed for spiritual, emotional, and physical intimacy—MARRIAGE!
More than Sex
Intimacy in marriage isn’t just about sex, though the media would have you believe that.
The truth is without the most basic elements of intimacy—affection, emotional connection, and spiritual unity—sex, the culmination of all marital intimacy, is an empty, selfish, soul-sucking act. It leaves us hollow and isolated simply because humans are so much more than sexual beings.
There’s no argument that men and women are different. That’s because God designed us to balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise we’d be competing with each other all the time.
Together we need three things in varying degrees:
- AFFECTION: Guys, most women need affection more than you do. It’s just the way they’re wired. Touch your lady often and gently. Ladies, expect to have to communicate about this a lot. You have to tell him what you need.
- EMOTIONAL CONNECTION: Ladies, connecting emotionally doesn’t come easy for most men. That’s because their limbic system—the emotional center of the brain—is typically larger in females (this also makes women more susceptible to depression). So be patient. They won’t share their feelings like you do.
- SPIRITUAL UNITY: For most engaged couples, spiritual unity is at the bottom of the list for important compatibility. But God puts it at the top:
Because we are made in the image of God, the spiritual parts of our nature have the greatest impact on our unity with others. Sure, two people with very different philosophies can marry, but research supports scripture when it states that married couples from different faiths are three times more likely to divorce than those who consistently practice the same faith.
Here are some practical ways you and your spouse can build your intimacy. The first two are activities you can do independently. The rest are activities to do together.
#1 – Leave notes of encouragement in unexpected places.
Who doesn’t like being surprised with a note to remind them they are loved? It could be in a sock drawer, a toolbox, or the shower at home, or in a suitcase, briefcase, or wallet when traveling.
#2 – Make (rather than buy) a card of encouragement.
When you hand make a card rather than buying an impersonal greeting from a store, it communicates how valuable your spouse is to you, and that they are worth the thoughtful consideration, time, and energy it took to fashion a card. It doesn’t have to look like a Hallmark; it’s a gift from the heart.
Many of us didn’t have a great example of marriage growing up. But even if we did, we all still have to learn how to build a healthy marriage ourselves. Read books and discuss what ideas and information challenge or confirm the beliefs you have about your relationship with your spouse.
#4 – Eat a digital-free meal.
Electronics are both a benefit and a bane of relationships. They bring us together when we’re apart with instant messaging, texting, and email, but they also drive a wedge between us with their insistent need for attention. Put your phone down and focus on your spouse when you eat together.
#5 – Serve in a volunteer capacity.
Feed the homeless in your local shelter, visit a children’s home, give blood, or volunteer in a senior center. We learn so much about our spouses (and ourselves) when we are focused on the needs of others.
#6 – Have a scheduled exclusive 20-minute conversation every day.
If you have to, use your Google Calendar to book a daily one-on-one time with your spouse. First thing in the morning or last thing at night can work as long as you aren’t both half-asleep and can give each other your full attention. This a great time to encourage each other, share scriptures, and pray together.
#7 – Pray daily.
A healthy, lifelong marriage based on truth and trust is impossible without God. So much is revealed to us and our spouse when we walk, stand, or kneel before the Creator who sees every corner of our hearts and longs to help us live victoriously in the light.
#8 – Watch a documentary and discuss it.
There are thousands of short documentaries online or Netflix. Learn something about the world together. Watch a Ted Talk, a National Geographic short film, or listen to a podcast. Share how the views expressed or lifestyle presented alter or confirm your world view.
Don’t forget your free Build Intimacy with Your Spouse Infographic
#9 – Do chores or errands.
Sure, dividing and conquering those mundane things in life will save time, but doing the dishes as a couple or grocery shopping together is an investment in your relationship. You never know—washing the cars together could be a new kind of foreplay.
#10 – Build a do-it-yourself project.
Not handy? Home Depot and Lowe’s have weekly DIY workshops. Or you can scout YouTube. Start small. Get assistance if you need it. When you build something for your home together, the finished project is symbolic of your partnership. Every time you look at it, you’ll be reminded of your marriage.
#11 – Take a massage technique class.
This type of service to one another requires inquiry, communication, and openness. It is the perfect practice for building intimacy. The only argument you might have is who gets massaged first!
#12 – Do something spontaneous.
Spontaneity is like adrenaline to a relationship. It pumps you full of excitement. You can’t plan to be spontaneous. But when it comes, give yourself to it fully. Think of it as a shared adventure to make memories.
#13 – Take a walk and only talk about the future.
It’s so easy to get caught up in talk about the kids or work or extended family issues. Instead focus on each other and your dreams. Share details about individual goals as well as a dream you can fulfill as a team. Make this a springboard for fulfilling those plans.
#14 – Take turns doing an activity preferred by the other person.
Not into camping but your spouse loves it? Does shopping make you want to run for your man cave? Identify an activity that your spouse loves and voluntarily give your whole heart to doing it. Don’t complain. Look for the joy that your spouse finds in it. You may not share it, but it will help you to know them that much better.
#15 – Share your progress in your intimacy with another couple.
When you walk the path of intimacy side by side with another couple, it’s like tripling a friendship. You get three times the amount of inspiration, alternatives, and practical solutions. Plus, you get an attentive audience for unresolved conflict and a safe place to share ideas.
Let’s get real—marriage is the most difficult AND most rewarding relationship you will ever have.
If you have kids, they will eventually grow up, move away, and have their own lives. But you and your spouse are bound together for life. That’s why it is imperative you set it as a priority.
In the following exercises, both spouses should complete their lists independently before coming together.
In your journal, make two lists:
1. Choose 3-5 of the 16 ways to build intimacy noted above that most appeal to you.
2. Write down what obstacles currently hinder you and your spouse from having consistent one-on-one time together each week. These could include work schedules, kids, extended family, health issues, etc.
Schedule a ONE-HOUR block of time to discuss your lists together.
1. Review your lists and decide which of the 16 ways you will start to build intimacy into your marriage.
2. Strategize what you will individually commit to do or sacrifice to make sure these events happen. Remember as a team, it takes both partners to make it work.
3. Schedule at least TWO (2) of these activities into your calendars BEFORE you leave this first meeting.
Wrapping it Up with Resources
Here’s a treasure trove of resources to make your marriage the best it has ever been one day at a time.
- I Choose Us: A Christian Perspective on Building Love Connection in Your Marriage by Breaking Harmful Cycles by John & Karen Louis
- Intimacy: A 100-Day Guide to Lasting Relationships by Dr. Douglas Weiss
- Covenant Marriage: Building Communication and Intimacy by Gary Chapman
- Just Us: Finding Intimacy with God and With Each Other by David & Jan Stoop
- The Essential 8: Principles of a Growing Marriage by Sam & Geri Laing
- Building Emotional Intimacy in Your Marriage: Achieving Closeness that Will Last Forever by Jeff & Florence Schachinger
- Wild at Heart & Captivating by John & Stasi Eldridge
If you haven’t read my free copy of The Intimacy Manifesto, why not do it now?
You did it! You completed the Building Intimacy Series. I hope it has helped you to be more equipped than ever to build powerful, intimate relationships with God, your friends, your kids, and your spouse.
Don’t forget your free 15 Ways to Build Intimacy with Your Spouse Infographic
Or get a printable version