Intimacy is vital for any marriage to flourish and a Christian marriage is certainly no different. However, the word intimacy can mean different things for different people, and it’s interpretation can vary greatly depending on whether you are speaking with a man or a woman.
For many men, intimacy is just another word for sex. Ask most any man if he is intimate with his wife and he will likely assume that you are referring to their sexual relationship. It is, unfortunately the direction that the male mind runs in most of the time.
Ask a woman the same question and sex may not even be mentioned. Instead, you will be hearing words like closeness, sharing, bonding, devotion, vulnerable and connected.
Christian Intimacy Is True Intimacy
True intimacy, what I refer to as Christian intimacy, actually has three markers, or legs if you will…emotional, spiritual and physical, and three entities, husband, wife and God. For a marriage to stand the test it requires not just one or two, but all three legs.
Picture a stool. A stool with one leg will not stand. Add a second leg to that stool and it will still fall over and crash to the floor. But when you add a third leg you have stability. Now it will support the full weight of the load that is put upon it. Likewise your marriage needs the stability provided by the three legs of Christian intimacy.
The Importance Of Emotional Intimacy
Emotional intimacy relies heavily on trust and vulnerability. Emotional intimacy allows you and your spouse to become closer and offers a safe refuge where each of you can openly and honestly discuss feelings, dreams, fantasies, beliefs and fears without criticism, ridicule or reprisal. The risk involved in revealing your inner most being to another person is negated by the confident trust that you built up with your spouse. It’s okay to be vulnerable because you know your spouse is not going to hurt you.
Physical Intimacy Has Many Faces
Physical intimacy certainly can and does encompass sexual relations, but is not necessarily fulfilled in the sexual act. Physical intimacy can be something as simple as holding hands or cuddling on the couch watching a movie.
That is not to say that sex is not important. Sex and romance are vital components of marriage. Physical intimacy is at its best when each spouse is focused on fulfilling the needs and desires of their partner and possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to attain that goal. Sexual intimacy and emotional intimacy play off of one another, each building up and strengthening the other.
God never intended for sex to be the cause of tension and frustration in a marriage. He gave us the gift of sex so that husband and wife could become one flesh. Understanding the emotional and physical needs of your spouse and how they differ from your own can greatly enhance Christian intimacy in your marriage.
Spiritual Intimacy – The Tie That Binds
Spiritual intimacy can be the most powerful force in your marriage. Emotional and physical intimacy is what brought you and your spouse together…but spiritual intimacy is what bonds and keeps the two of you together for a lifetime.
Spiritual intimacy is the unification of two separate beings into one conjoined spirit, seeking mutual goals, ambitions and a common destiny, without compromising the uniqueness of each individual. “You and I” have truly become “we and us.”
Of necessity, true spiritual intimacy is only achieved when each spouse has an individual relationship with Jesus. As their relationship with the Lord grows deeper, so likewise will the bond between husband and wife grow stronger as new avenues of intimacy are opened up through mutual prayer and worship.
Achieving Intimacy In Your Marriage
Christian intimacy in marriage can be achieved by anyone. Simply start with where you are comfortable, be it emotional, physical or spiritual and start working in that one area. As you do you will find that intimacy will begin to blossom out into the other areas and your marriage will be sitting on a strong and stable foundation.