The word intimate means to be close, familiar. It isn’t the way you would describe all your relationships. Intimacy is personal and private, reserved for that one person who has access to know you thoroughly, in great detail.
It’s what we all want in a marriage relationship AND it’s what God desires for you to experience.
The apostle Paul describes it as a great mystery, a small taste of an even deeper and more intimate relationship that God desires to have with us.
“As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. Ephesians 5:31-32
Often times, the intimacy that a couple enjoys at the beginning of their relationship wanes with time. And while they might enjoy intimate moments from time to time, they don’t live there on a consistent basis. A distance develops between them until it becomes easier to start again with someone new then to re-discover the road back to the intimacy they once shared.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Intimacy isn’t for the select few who won the relationship lottery and found the person they could connect with throughout every season of life. Every person, regardless of the brokenness of their past or the walls they’ve built, can learn how to cultivate an intimate relationship. It just takes practice, a willingness to confront the obstacles in front of you, and the grace of God to lead you forward.
Maybe you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed right about now. If so, let me just encourage you with this…intimacy might sound fun and romantic, but it’s also vulnerable and scary. You’re giving someone else access to the real you while going on a journey of discovering the real them. It’s not for the faint of heart.
It is worth it.
Every brave conversation, every decision to stick with it and not throw in the towel, every question that leads you a little closer to understanding. It might not feel worth it today or even tomorrow. But intimacy is worth fighting for.
There’s a revelation of God inside of it. His desire to know you, to be known by you. His willingness to sacrifice without any guarantee of a response on our behalf. His unwavering commitment to love us in spite of all our selfishness and pride.
Marriage isn’t about finding the person who will do all those things for you, it’s becoming the person who can do all of that for another person because of what Jesus did for us.
You might feel discouraged about the lack of intimacy in your marriage or maybe you feel like it’s never been stronger and is in no danger of ever diminishing. Regardless of where you are, I want to encourage you to develop these habits in your marriage that will lead to a deeper intimacy.
1. Pray for your spouse
One of the most powerful things you can do for your marriage is to pray intentionally. We’ve put together a list of 7 Things to Prayer for your Marriage. Write them on cards and put them somewhere that you will see them every day and remember to pray.
2. Ask good questions
It’s easy to get in a routine of asking the same things every day: “How was your day?”, “Anything exciting happen?”, “What do you want to do tonight?”
What would happen if you changed tactics and instead of gathering information, you developed a healthy curiosity towards your spouse?
What are they passionate about right now? What frustrates them? What could you do that would mean the world to them?
3. Spend five minutes understanding yourself
While you’re trying to learn about them, you’re also teaching your spouse about you. It’s a hard task if you don’t ever stop to understand what’s going on inside you.
Take five minutes every morning to consider something that has recently made you smile, something you’re actively trying to change, and something you’re looking forward to. That way, when there’s a quiet moment with your spouse, you’ll have something to say.
4. Put a reminder on your phone to encourage your spouse
Studies show that we’re more likely to remember and verbalize things that irritate us while quickly forgetting the things that bless us. Sad, huh? Think of how many beautiful things your spouse has probably done for you that you forgot to ever mention or say thank you for.
A great way to combat this is to set a reminder on your phone to actually tell them. Go ahead, you can do it now. Set the alarm and when it goes off, stop whatever you’re doing and think about something you appreciate about your spouse. Then text them, call them, write a card, order flowers…do what you gotta do to let them know.
How often should you do it? Maybe the better question is, how intimate do you want to be? I can guarantee you'll look forward to connecting more when the interactions between you are more positive than they are negative.
*If you’re not in a good place with your spouse, it might be tempting to sidestep this one. But I’d encourage you not to. You might have to dig a little deep to find it, especially if there’s some resentment and pain that have built up around your heart. Maybe you need to go back to step number 1 and pray about it. That’s ok, we all have those seasons. Keep fighting for intimacy and believing that God is fighting with you.
5. Carve out time to go deep
Women tend to crave intimacy through an emotional connection while men are wanting to experience the physical connection. God wants you to have both, built upon a spiritual connection with Him.
Stop and re-read those last two sentences. It’s going to make a huge difference in the way you view your spouse and their desire for intimacy.
Long conversations over breakfast and the rendezvous under the sheets are both aspects of intimacy. Together, with a spiritual connection, they draw the two of you closer together. So, make time for it, enough time that you can linger.
6. Remove obstacles that keep you from wanting to be vulnerable
Many things contribute to our understanding and desire for intimacy. Our past relationships, the perspective we’ve adopted of ourselves, the painful experiences we’ve encountered…all of these can become obstacles keeping us from giving someone else access to our heart.
We need to confront what happened yesterday in order to move into the future God has planned for us. It’s why we recommend everyone goes through one of our Freedom Groups at Sun City Church and gets free from the hurts of the past.
Our Freedom Groups are just getting started for the Spring Semester and you can join one by finding them in the Small Group Directory. There's both a Women's and Men's Freedom Group taking place this semester.
7. Guard who you’re influenced by
The people closest to you will carry the greatest weight in your future decisions. If you spend time with people who value lust over love, they will influence the direction your heart takes. But if you surround yourself with people who are committed to the pursuit of intimacy with their spouse, they will inspire, encourage, and help you towards that end in your own marriage.
A great way to invest in that area is to attend our upcoming marriage conference on Sunday, February 18th. You’ll connect with other people who want to create a great marriage and hear from our speakers on tools that will help you build an enduring marriage.
The tickets are $25 per person (dinner and childcare for elementary age kids are included in the price).
You can find more information and purchase tickets here.
Lastly, we invite you to join us this Sunday as we start a new sermon series entitled The Vow. It's going to explore four commitments that have the potential to transform your marriage. Service times are at 9:15 & 11:00 am.