What Is Intimacy and its Importance in Christian Marriage?
By Katie T. Kennedy, Crosswalk.com
What exactly is intimacy? How important is it for Christian marriages? Have you thought about how intimacy impacts your relationship?
Most people think immediately of intercourse when they hear the word intimate. Yes, that is a part of intimacy. However, it’s broader than that. Let’s look at this topic and explore its importance in our Christian marriages today.
What it Means
Intimacy means belonging, closeness, familiarity, inseparable, nearness, chumminess, and affection. This word can be used to describe familiarity with an old friend or the passion between a married couple.
You may have many close friends and even a few best friends; however, your spouse stands apart from all the rest. You get to have all those attributes mentioned above, plus the one thing that makes this relationship distinct, intercourse. This God-designed act is a gift for married couples. The intimacy involved in intercourse brings you a closeness with your spouse that you will not experience elsewhere. It’s a bond you share.
Intimacy outside the bedroom is also important. This includes physical touch, expressing emotions, communication, and sharing your thoughts and values. It’s being vulnerable, opening up to each other, and discussing each other’s goals and dreams. These are conversations you don’t have with just anyone.
Practicing intimacy can also look like snuggling on a couch, a deep embrace, or a kiss before you leave for the day. There are lots of ways you can be intimate and strengthen your relationship.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
God designed marriage and intimacy and intended for marriage to be monogamous. You get to choose one person to share this special bond with, one person with which to be physically vulnerable.
Why Is Intimacy So Important?
Intimacy is the unique bond you have with your spouse. Meeting each other’s needs is a priority to keep your marriage strong. Whether they are physical or emotional needs. Women’s and men’s needs are not always the same.
Men tend to desire more intercourse, and women crave conversation and connection. Both involve being intimate with each, just in different capacities. Here’s the thing, for both parties to feel connected, you need both types, not just one. The man needs his physical needs met. That is how he feels loved and joined together. The wife needs to feel emotionally connected.
“Each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:2-3)
Intimacy reminds us about the exclusivity of your relationship. It gives you a chance to express yourself emotionally and physically. It allows you to break down barriers that we unintentionally put up. Humans crave connection, and intimacy fuels that bucket.
I remember attending an event on marriage, sitting in a large sanctuary, and listening to married couples speak. The husband made the point that he might have lots of friends and acquaintances, maybe even a couple of best friends. However, there was only one person he would be sharing the close act of intercourse with, his wife. This special bond set their relationship apart from anyone else in the room. This act is what makes your marriage special and unique.
Are Our Christian Marriages Under Attack and What Can We Do?
Yes, I believe our marriages are under attack. By whom? The enemy. Satan detests God’s plans. God has our best interests in mind. When Christian marriages are thriving, Satan is waiting to attack.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Intimacy is one way we can defend against Satan’s attacks.
Our Pastor recently said the only thing we need to do to spiritually drift is to do nothing. We must be active, pray, and read the Bible to maintain our relationship with God. Doing nothing will result in drifting. I would argue the same thing can happen to couples. If you do nothing, you could be at risk.
Healthy marriages take effort. They take commitment, energy, time, intimacy, and more. It’s not always a smooth ride, but the journey requires two participants. It takes work.
I know most of you already feel stretched thin, and I get it. However, our relationship with God and our spouse is the most important in our lives. When they are thriving, so is the rest of the house.
Seeking God together and individually is another way to maintain a healthy marriage. When you continually pursue God, He will make straight your paths. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Yes, our Christian marriages are under attack, but we have ways to defend against these attacks. Intimacy is one way to keep our marriages healthy. Pursuing God in your relationship is another.
We mentioned intercourse is a part of being intimate, so let’s look at the impact of that on relationships. Research shows regular sexual activity benefits health, well-being, and quality of life. People with an active sex life may be more physically fit, happier, have a better cognitive function, increased life expectancy, better immune function, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and experience less stress.
Sexually intimate relationships can experience satisfaction in their marriage. Intercourse and affection have a positive correlation. Not meeting someone’s sexual desires can lead to frustration and possibly depression. Communication is key on this topic. Discuss each other’s desires and challenges. You probably won’t be exactly on the same page regarding how frequently you both want to make love, but if you have a healthy conversation, every party can share their thoughts and desires.
If a couple does not have a healthy sex life, the enemy will be pounding on the door with all sorts of temptations. We know how destructive pornography can be to a marriage, so don’t let it enter your home.
The Christian journey is about dying to self, putting God above fleshly desires. Marriage is about sacrifice, putting the needs and desires above your own; it’s about putting your spouse first (whether you want to or not). Is this easy? No. Is it natural? Absolutely not. You are going to fight with your fleshly desires, and then you have to mortify them and commit to the marriage. (Galatians 5:16)
How Do We Improve Intimacy?
People want to be known. Intimacy is the sense of another person knowing you fully and loving you just as you are.
Psychology Today says intimacy requires trust and safety to feel free enough to let go and be yourself. Here are the ingredients they feel are necessary for intimacy: safety, trust, self-awareness, presence, openness, courage, self-esteem, autonomy, and mutuality.
If your relationship is struggling with intimacy, have hope and know you are not alone. Remember, every marriage goes through rough patches. No relationship is smooth sailing all the time. We are sinners married to sinners. There are bound to be problems, but don’t give up.
Recognizing you need help in this area is step one. Take your concerns to your Father in Heaven; He is for your marriage! He already knows your struggles, so you can be honest. God will guide your paths and help bring you closer when you seek Him. “Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.” (Psalm 119:132-133)
Pray for the areas you are struggling with and ask for help. Repent the things you are responsible for.
How do we create time and an environment where intimacy will thrive in our homes? Make time for conversation with your spouse, read a book together, and do something fun together. Spending time together should increase your feelings for intimacy. Communicate each other’s needs. Be physical!
Intimacy Is Important
Intimacy is critical for your marriage. Marriage is about serving one another, not about getting our own way. The more we can serve our spouse, the more we glorify God. We are here to please Him. “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” (2 Corinthians 5:9)
When we seek Christ, he guides our steps, heals our relationships, and keeps our efforts in check. Reading His Word gives us wisdom and knowledge of Him and helps align our will with His. His desire for your marriage is for it to flourish.
Katie T. Kennedy lives in Richmond, VA. She is married to a wonderful husband Jonathan and they have three girls. She is a writer, blogger, and employee of the family business. After a mid-life spiritual transformation, she discovered her love of writing. She loves to travel, read, be in nature, cook, and dream. She would love to connect with you online at www.katietkennedy.com, Instagram or Facebook.