If you were asked to define what being “intimate” looks like between you and your spouse, how would you answer that? Is it a kiss or embrace? Is it a private joke? Is it sex? Is it shared values and experiences? Definitions vary, but revolve around deep and exclusive ways we know and are known by another. But whether physical, spiritual, or emotional intimacy, our challenge is often finding time to cultivate that closeness. With work and projects and family and kids in the mix, busy households and work schedules make finding closeness fleeting. Too often, the last thing we have time for is intimacy with a spouse.
Intimacy takes time and focus on one another, and man and wife are given to one another so that we can be known most fully in marriage. That kind of companionship is how we're designed to be connected. And marriage is the exclusive and joyful opportunity for sexual intimacy. We have tons of scripture about how sex should be right and good in a marriage:
God gives us the freedom and joy to express our love for a spouse within the safety of covenantal marriage.
As we build our lives together, our focus over time moves from investing in just each other to investing together in work, kids, and a home. But busyness can make time for our spouse the easiest thing to postpone. Throw in the minor conflicts we all experience as we get to know one another deeply, and it may become easier just to avoid making time to push past one another's sharp edges. Yet God designed marriage to be a place of intimacy--we are called to be lovers and not just roommates. Your spouse should know your heart and hurts and struggles, not to mention your physical tenderness. Make investing in your marriage first a priority, because it is out of your lifelong marriage you have a platform for parenting, careers, projects, a home, and all the rest. Many things are urgent, but continued investment in your marriage is central.
Emotional connections are a bridge to other forms intimacy. Talk together about your day and share how you felt about events--bear each others burdens (Gal 6:2). Ask about one another’s day and explore the feelings that underlie the activities. Were there victories? Tragedies? Comedies? When we are emotionally transparent and cared for, we have a greater capacity to give of ourselves spiritually and physically.
Search out the small moments to connect every day. Laundry need to be done? Then do it together. Dishes need to be washed? Make a game out of it that for every bowl you put away you get a kiss. Find joy in time spent together. Creativity is key, so use your imagination. As long as you know your boundaries and comfort level of your spouse then enjoy the chores and get a little creative.
Time away can rejuvenate a neglected relationship. Take a dinner out or a weekend at a B&B. Or simply take an evening walk to create a few moments for intimate conversation. Plan an activity for your kids to be gone and do activities together that bring joy, laughter, giddiness, and excitement. Play a game and have some fun. Dance in your living room. Proverbs 5:18-19 ends with this proclamation to be “intoxicated always” in love.
Shared spiritual practice--couples that express their faith together--is the greatest predictor of long-lasting marriages. That means worship together, at a church and at the family table, for example. It also means prayer together. Pray over your kids together. Hold each other's hands and pray out loud for each other. Let your spouse hear you bring your love for them before the throne of God. Few actions cultivate intimacy like praying out loud together.
Try this: put the kids to bed and turn off the TV, laptops, and especially phones. Spend a half hour talking about your day and how you felt about it. Hold each other's hands and pray out loud for each other. And then go to bed early before you're too tired. Just take some time while you still have energy to put your marriage in first place.
God knew what he was doing when he created us man and woman. We're made to fit together and show love to each other. God has given you and your spouse a sacred space to become known, build trust, explored each other, and cultivate relationship within marriage. Marriage is designed to be a place of multi-layered intimacy--physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, each layer of investment builds upon the other. Invest in each other so your relationship is blessed with the intimacy that God intended for marriage.