Tag Archives: intimacy in marriage

How Do You Define Intimacy?

What is conjured up in your mind when you hear the word “intimacy”? Chances are the word intimacy has different connotations to you depending on your gender. I’ve read some surveys that suggest women tend to think of the emotional side of intimacy, and men tend to think of physical intimacy. The book 13 Keys to Unlocking Intimacy in Your Marriage by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo discusses six types of intimacy and how you can achieve them all. I’ve enjoyed their blog, One Extraordinary Marriage for some time; check it out.

I would have been hard pressed to come up with all these types, but I agree they are all important to a strong marriage:

  • Emotional Intimacy (sharing feelings, thoughts, desires)
  • Intellectual Intimacy (common life goals, open communication, mutual understanding)
  • Spiritual Intimacy (shared religious beliefs and observed religious practices)
  • Recreational Intimacy (having fun together and sharing quality time)
  • Financial Intimacy (honesty about all money matters)
  • Physical Intimacy (all physical touch from holding hands to sex)

The advice Alisa and Tony give about how they achieved these six types of intimacy includes many of their mistakes along their journey, from addiction to pornography to finding themselves $50,000 in debt. In that regard, they don’t set themselves up as the perfect couple, but rather a couple who is hoping others can learn from some of their early relationship errors. 

Tony and Alisa offer useful tips from setting boundaries with your parents to negotiating how to spend free time in a way you will both enjoy. The book offers the male and female perspectives on numerous topics, so both genders of readers can relate. It also provides a section for answering questions about your own relationship, which can foster a discussion between you and your spouse. Whether you are young in your marriage or need to revisit some of the positive aspects you used to enjoy, these concepts are key to an enjoyable relationship.

If you’re interested in learning more about these six types of intimacy and how to unlock their potential, you can find the ebook here. (They offer a traditional book, audio book or eBook formats.) Tony also offers an online course called Blow Up My Marriage to help boost your marriage by focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

My feeling is you can send your marriage into a downward spiral if you spend all your time picking apart your weaknesses and focusing on your perpetual conflicts. Every relationship has these. Instead, focus on what you love about your spouse and how you can grow from there. That is not to say that we don’t all have room to improve. Just don’t tear each other down every day, or you may lose that “lovin’ feeling.”

Fess up, what kind of intimacy did you think of when you read the headline?

Photo Credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

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Achieving Intimacy in Marriage

In my reader survey, one of the most popular topics was to learn more about maintaining intimacy in marriage. Often, that’s another way of saying, “How do we keep the spark alive?” But intimacy goes much further than the physical. I’m a firm believer of understanding the importance and depth of intimacy between a husband and wife.

By achieving intimacy, I’m talking about the concept of two people learning how to be vulnerable and “known” to one another and learning how to love one another fully. A blog I read regularly is Journey to Surrender, and Scott has some very helpful things to say in his post “What is intimacy?”.

He explains the progression of intimacy from spiritual intimacy to emotional intimacy to physical intimacy (including sex and non-sexual touching). When we start at one end and work toward physical intimacy, it creates a deeper bond and often a heightened physical experience (because the mind and emotions are participating). Scott has a lot more to say on the topic and provides a definition similar to my own: “Genuine intimacy comes from being fully known and completely loved.” Basically, we are free to be ourselves, and are loved without fear of rejection or judgement. That’s the really cool part of intimacy.

In a different post, Scott reminds us of the old adage that many of us find to be true in our marriages–that women need emotional intimacy as a prerequisite for physical intimacy, and men usually prefer the opposite order. Different individuals also view their needs for intimacy differently. So, it’s certainly worth discussing with your spouse after reading Viva La Difference, which explains the fruits of selfless giving, a way for you both to get your needs met without falling into the give-to-get routine, which is at best, difficult to sustain, and at worst, a road to resentment if your needs are not perfecty met.

Next week, I’ll be discussing 13 Keys to Unlocking Intimacy in Your Marriage by Tony & Alisa DiLorenzo, who describe other types of intimacy and means to achieve it. If you’re not yet a subscriber, just enter your email address in the right hand column of my home page, and you’ll get updated automatically. (Cancel anytime with one click.)

What do you think of when you hear “intimacy”? Is it long talks over candlelit dinners, sparks flying under the sheets or sharing spiritual insights together? Is it something different? How do you achieve true intimacy in your marriage?

Help Your Spouse Achieve Lifelong Dreams

I have a few close friends and family members who are all about their “bucket lists,” the lists of things they want to experience or accomplish during their lives. For instance, my brother’s list inspired him to climb Mount Rainier and to go deep-sea diving in remote locations.  This week, I was reading the uplifting blog The Generous Wife. She suggested as couples we talk regularly about our bucket lists and look for ways to help our spouses achieve their wishes. It’s a fantastic suggestion.

I like this idea for multiple reasons. First, discussing your dreams with your spouse increases intimacy and keeps you focused on positive aspects of your life. Second, participating in activities outside of your norm builds excitement and passion for yourself and for your marriage. And third, helping your spouse achieve his or her dreams often causes your spouse to have increased gratitude toward you. And gratitude has been shown to increase connection and bonds.

I must admit I’m not much of a true adventurer. I’d much rather sit on a beach than climb a treacherous mountain. However, I have spectacular memories of traveling to Hawaii, Bermuda, Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Monaco, Mexico—and yes, even a memorable trip to Canada during one of their worst snowstorms—with my husband. All that travel came to a screeching halt when our two children were welcomed into our lives. I have more destinations in mind when our kids are a bit older. But travel isn’t required; many adventures can be found without leaving your hometown.

I have a great friend who encouraged her husband to fulfill his dream of running a hot-air balloon business, while maintaining his full-time job as a pilot. I’ve never heard her complain of the time it takes away from their large family. I have other friends who have supported their spouse’s dreams to become an entrepreneur or a full-time parent. Two married friends have decided to visit every national park in the country. Perhaps you have always wanted to take music or dance lessons, fly an airplane, learn a new language or write a book. Share your goals with your spouse, and discuss how your dreams could become a reality.

Believing in one another and in a positive vision for your union is part of the magic of marriage. How many divorces could be prevented if spouses felt their partner cared as much about their dreams and goals as they do?

What fun things are on your bucket list? What obstacles stand in your way—time, money, self-doubt, an aging body? Do you know what’s on your partner’s list?

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please spend one minute to take this survey  answering five quick questions. Your confidential responses will help me immensely. Thanks!

5 Things I Learned From My Failed Marriage

This is a guest post from Julie Sibert, a passionate speaker and writer on intimacy in marriage at Intimacy in Marriage. Thanks to Julie for providing these lessons, which help turn a past failure into a way to help others.

Julie says: I learned a lot more than five things from my failed marriage, but the items below have to do with discussions about sex in marriage, so I’ll stick to that topic. Here goes:

5. Hormones do matter. Libido (a Latin word meaning desire), aka “sex drive,” is governed greatly by hormones. I was on the birth control pill for a good portion of my first marriage, and had NO IDEA that it was negatively impacting my sex drive hormonally. (In layman’s terms, the pill essentially tells your body to not ovulate. The message “I want to have sex” often does not get through because if you’re not ovulating, your body instead is saying, “What’s the point?”) Now, I’m not telling you to ditch the pill; but I am encouraging you to talk with your doctor. This goes for any medications and prescriptions you and/or your husband are taking. Don’t be afraid to ask the question, “How could this medication impact my sex drive?” Additionally, if either you or your husband experiences low sex drive, consider testing for low testosterone. Both men and women have testosterone (men just have it at a much higher rate). Low testosterone obviously can impact your desire to have sex.

4. Offering my body was not optional. God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 clearly and lovingly shows that the marital commitment includes the pledge that husbands and wives will not withhold their bodies from each other. In my first marriage, I think I conveniently overlooked this, much to the detriment of our relationship. Some women ask me, “Is it ever okay to say ‘no’ to sex?” Well, sure it is, because marriage should be a place of mutual respect and kindness. But I believe “no” should be the rare exception, communicated with compassion and a tone that conveys, “not right now…but later.”

3. “Someday” never really comes. I wasn’t oblivious to our lack of sexual intimacy; I was just consistently telling myself, “We will figure this out someday.” Well, the elusive someday never really materializes on its own. Had I intentionally walked in the direction of “someday,” we likely would have overcome many of our sexual struggles.

2. Communication is what makes sex great. Honestly, my first husband and I had horrible communication about our sexual intimacy. It wan’t his fault alone and it wasn’t mine…it was a shared problem that we never really shared. It’s humbling to admit that now…to look back and see that had we made the effort to talk…really talk… not only about our struggles sexually but also about our needs and wants… sex likely wouldn’t have been such a neglected aspect in our relationship.

And the number 1 thing I learned from my failed marriage…

1. Isolating never solves anything. I knew sex was a big issue for us, but I didn’t seek out resources that could have helped me individually and us together as a couple. And let me tell you…there are a lot of Christian resources out there. If you feel alone in any of your sexual intimacy struggles or questions, staying isolated in that painful and confusing place is not going to solve anything. Consider some of the resources I have listed here. You could also ask your trusted Christian friends if they know of resources.

After my first marriage fell apart, I vowed that if the Lord were to ever bless me with marriage again, I was not going to take sexual intimacy for granted. I’m happy to report that I have never regretted that decision. Neither has my current husband. Be blessed!