Don’t buy these common misconceptions about intimacy. Choose to believe the truth instead.
Everyone wants more intimacy. At least it seems that way to me. Every time I ask about what people want more of in their marriage, the top answers, no matter how I frame the question, always come back to intimacy.
In my New Reader Survey, 77% had great interest in posts about sexual intimacy and 82% had great interest in posts about emotional intimacy. Regardless of how I slice the data, male/female, years of marriage, kids or no kids, previously married or not, people are looking for more intimacy in their marriage.
The same goes for my “Three Things” survey, where I asked people to identify the top three things they wanted more of in their marriage. The top answer is for more passion/sexual intimacy (65%). The next highest answer is for more spiritual togetherness (39%). In third place is a stronger emotional connection (37%).
Intimacy is The Goal
I believe that intimacy, in all forms, should be the main goal of every marriage. God built us with an innate desire for intimacy: intimacy with Him and intimacy with our spouse. Deep down we all need a strong connection to God and our spouse, and that’s ultimately when our marriages are strongest.
I also believe God designed us for a huge capacity for intimacy and that we can continue to grow closer together regardless of how long we’ve been married or how strong we feel the intimacy in our marriage currently is. There is always more, just as there is in our relationship with Christ.
Don’t Buy These Lies
So we all want and need more intimacy. There are some common misconceptions about intimacy in marriage that will do damage if you believe them. Choose not to believe the lies but to embrace the truth instead.
1. Guys Don’t Do Intimacy
In his book Scarey Close, Donald Miller has a chapter about men and intimacy. He says, “I don’t think men are as bad at intimacy as we might think. It’s just that we get pressured to go about intimacy in ways that are traditionally more feminine, specifically we’re asked to talk about it and share our feelings. We don’t really want to do that.” He goes on to say, “I think men do intimacy differently and I think that’s okay.”
In that same chapter he also says, “The problem is most men are actually great at intimacy it’s just that we’ve been led to believe we aren’t. And I’m convinced the confusion is costing us.”
I agree. Men do intimacy; they just do it differently than women. To begin with, for many men the path for emotional connection leads through the bedroom. A strong sexual connection actually makes them desire (not just be open to) a strong emotional connection. Another difference is that men tend to share more about facts and data than about their emotions, because these are things that are important to them. Finally, men tend to use a lot fewer words than women do.
What all this points to is the fact that when it comes to intimacy (being fully known, and yet totally loved and accepted), men approach it from a very different angle than women. We need to accept that difference in each other and be okay with it.
Truth: Your spouse probably does emotional intimacy differently than you do, and that’s okay.
2. Sex is For Him
It’s amazing to me how many women believe this one. Many women who don’t have the same testosterone-laden sex drive as their husbands do think they are fine without sex. They aren’t.
Sex is the only form of intimacy that God strictly reserved to be shared between husbands and wives, which makes sex not only unique but also sacred. In my Sexual Satisfaction Survey findings (which you can get a copy of by subscribing to my posts here) I found that one in five marriage are essentially sexless (sex less than once a month). That is tragic.
Believing that sex is primarily for husbands will rob wives of the sexual enjoyment and fulfillment that God has intends. Sex is not primarily a physical act. It is deeply spiritual and builds a wide pathway to a strong emotional connection as well. Having sex regularly strengthens your marriage, gives you a sense of well-being, and makes you actually desire sex more.
Truth: Don’t let the fact that you may have less physical drive allow you to miss out on the joy and pleasure that is rightfully yours.
3. Spiritual Intimacy is for Her
The male corollary to women believing that “sex is for him” is the lie that “spiritual intimacy is for her.”
While I observe that women tend to gravitate more naturally and easily toward spiritual matters, it doesn’t negate the fact that God desires an intimate relationship with husbands. I’ve found that I can love my wife best when I am strongly connected to God and that to be a good husband, I must first learn to be a bride – the bride of Christ.
If you buy the lie and leave the spiritual domain to your wife, it will not only inhibit your relationship with Christ (and therefor with your wife), it will rob you of the satisfaction and enjoyment that comes from leading your family spiritually. Most women have a strong desire to see their husbands step more fully into their spiritual leadership role. Dare I say that demonstrations of spiritual maturity and leadership are compellingly attractive to your wife. In my Three Things survey, more spiritual intimacy was the number one desire for wives.
As I explain in “3 Simple Ways to Lead Your Wife Spiritually” there are some easy ways to start to step out and lead. And for wives, read my post “How to Support Your Husband’s Spiritual Leadership.”
Truth: A thriving relationship with Jesus is for both husbands and wives and is the foundation of your marriage.
4. Intimacy Needs to Be Earned
There is a tendency in marriage to withhold the intimacy your spouse desires until you feel your own intimacy needs are being met. This is a dangerous game that will quickly land your marriage on the The Path of Separation, where you slowly spiral apart from each other.
The fact is that when you got married, the two of you became one. Therefore, intimacy should be your expectation at all times and you’ll want to continually and intentionally cultivate it. When you withhold intimacy, for whatever reason, you damage your connection and tear at the fabric of your oneness.
Withholding and punishing normally results in the opposite of what you hope it will accomplish. Waiting for your spouse to change before you become generous at meeting their needs does not work. The best way to keep on the Path of Intimacy is for you to work on you and becoming the best you can be at meeting your partner’s needs.
Truth: Grace, not judgment, is actually the best path to having your intimacy needs met.
5. Intimacy Is…
It’s safe to say that we all have our biases when it comes to intimacy, and we tend to think that our view is the “right” view.
What we often think of as intimacy is actually a byproduct of intimacy. A hot sex life, being romanced, having a deep emotional connection, or praying and sharing together are all fruits of intimacy. The lie is that if we go after to fruit, we’ll get the intimacy we want. The truth is that it’s intimacy that leads to the enjoyable fruit.
And intimacy is actually pretty simple (not easy, but simple), and it’s probably not what you think it is. It’s being fully known, weaknesses and all, yet being completely loved. (This is the same definition as intimacy with God, by the way). Stepping into the vulnerability that comes from be completely known, and being met in turn with unconditional love and grace, we experience the kind of intimacy that more easily leads to great sex, a deep soul connection, and a strong spiritual bond.
Truth: if you’ll work on being fully known, being transparent with the totality of your being, it will cause physical, emotional and spiritual intimacy grow.
These are my top 5 lies about intimacy. You’ll do well not to buy into them. Do you have some others lies that you’ve discovered in your marriage? Leave a comment.