THE MESSAGE FOR THE YOUNG COUPLES SEMINAR HELD ON AUGUST 29, 2009. THEME: INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE. MESSAGE BY: TAIWO, Elijah Introduction The word intimacy comes from a Latin word that means “innermost. ” In the marriage relationship, this translates into a vulnerable sharing of our inner thoughts, feelings, spirit, and true self. Both men and women need to feel secure in this sharing and confidant of their spouse’s support. This support is achieved through listening, empathy, prayer, or reassurance. Generally, this sharing and support must be in place before a woman will share herself physically in sexual closeness.
Intimacy is the closeness of your relationship with your spouse — emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, sexually, and in many other ways. Intimacy is not an end goal but rather a journey that lasts throughout your marriage. Marriage and family researchers Schaefer and Olson (1981) describe attaining intimacy as “a process that occurs over time and is never completed or fully accomplished” (p. 50). As you both grow and develop, each of you changes. If you neglect intimacy in your marriage, you will grow apart. The time to work on intimacy is now.
The idea of intimacy implies a connection between two persons, in this case between two spouses. The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes speaks of two individuals deriving warmth from lying down together (Ecclesiastes 4:9). The concept of marital intimacy is derived from the Biblical principle of oneness. Although the word ‘intimacy’ is not used in the Bible, the concept is found there (1) First, the phrase ‘the two shall become one’ is used to define the marriage relationship. Intimacy is living in full view of the other so that the two function as one.
God designed and appointed the husband to be head and for the wife to submit to the husband. If they are to function as one rather than two, then they need a way to relate to one another that does not cause conflict but encourages harmony. (2) The meaning of ‘oneness’ can be further understood by the words used to describe physical intimacy or the sexual union. Our culture now is trying to teach us that the sexual experiences of animals and humans are the same. They are totally mistaken. Much more is at stake. The couple deep down knows that there is more to intimacy than sex but don’t know how to reach it.
Why else would a couple get married? The Hebrew word used to describe the sexual relationship gives us a clue to what is missing. That word is ‘to know. ’ The Hebrew word yadah has many usages including: to know, learn to know; perceive; find out and discern; discriminate, distinguish; know by experience; recognize, admit, acknowledge, confess; consider and sexual union. Now the man had relations (literally ‘knew’) with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a man child with the help of the LORD. Genesis 4:1) When it says, for example, that Adam knew Eve, the scriptures are saying that they came together in sexual union. There is much more happening than the fulfillment of the individual’s sexual drive. There is the intimate sharing of soul and person. Animals don’t have souls or self-awareness. People do. The married couple, then, is not just revealing their bodies to each other but their hearts as well. If a couple wants true intimacy, they need to deepen their relationship with the other.
They need to ‘know’ each other in their different spheres of life (3) Thirdly, we can also see how ‘intimacy’ is portrayed throughout the Bible. Many theologians have argued over the true meaning of The Song of Solomon. If you haven’t read this book, you should. The book describes how a couple is romantically involved in each other’s life. You will also find some very interesting romantic poetry. WHATM A POETICAL BOOK “How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil; your hair is like a flock of goats that have descended from Mount Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of newly shorn ewes which have come up from their washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost her young. Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your temples are like a slice of a pomegranate behind your veil. (Song of Solomon 4:1-3 PERSPECTIVES-beyond ordinary relationship 1 But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:2) polygamy disallowed 2 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her usband. (1 Corinthians 7:3) 3 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. (1 Corinthians 7:4) 4 But one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife …but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:33-34) The husband has his wife, and the wife has her husband. They belong to each other. They possess each other. Each is owned by the other. This is the simple meaning of the Greek word to have or own. ) The husband and wife are surrendered to the wishes of their mates. Their wills and selves are yielded to the preference of each other. One’s own will is lost in serving the other. The husband and wife both positively seek the other’s best. Life decisions will always keep in mind what ‘pleases’ the other spouse whether it be sex, relocation, purchases, etc. Marriage brought the male and female together so that they no longer live according to their own whims and caprices but for the other.
Essentially, spiritual intimacy in marriage is about partnering with God; Harnessing His love, strength and leadership and utilizing that power in your marriage. As Gary says, man’s spell intimacy S-E-X, and women spell it T-A-L-K. How true is that for you? If you are like most men, when you hear the word intimacy, you think of a passionate physical experience. But when your wife hears the word intimacy, she thinks about emotional connection and communication. You compartmentalize sex from everything else in your life. Your wife sees everything connected to everything else.
You feel less masculine if your wife resists your sexual advances. Your wife feels like a machine if she doesn’t experience emotional intimacy before sexual intimacy. TYPES OF INTIMACY: • Emotional intimacy is the closeness created through sharing feelings. Because girls are encouraged to recognize and express their emotions from an early age, women generally understand emotions better than men. Unfortunately, society tends to discourage men from feeling or showing emotion. Men who didn’t learn how to be emotionally intimate while growing up can learn as adults. If they do, their marriages will be stronger and healthier.
The first step to emotional awareness is to pay attention to your feelings, identify them, and think of possible reasons for them. Work on noticing the differences between strong emotions such as terror and fury and the differences between more subtle emotions such as anxiety, insecurity, and irritation. Emotional intimacy can occur once people know what they are feeling, convey those feelings to each other, and express concern and understanding of their feelings to each other. • Mental or intellectual intimacy involves a mutual understanding about all the important issues in your marriage.
Setting goals together is one way to further intellectual intimacy. For example, you might set goals to improve your intimacy, to save a certain amount of money, or to go for daily walks together. • Spiritual intimacy involves sharing religious beliefs and observing religious practices together, such as praying and attending church. As you share spiritual experiences, you will become united in your attitudes and goals. Wheat (1980) suggests that couples become active in a church where they can learn, grow, and serve God along with others. ) Recreational intimacy is enjoying activities together, like running, golfing, or reading. Things as simple as popping popcorn and watching a movie or preparing a meal together can be good ways to build recreational intimacy. • Financial or monetary intimacy comes with discussing and sharing your finances. If you have separate accounts and separate incomes, you probably lack financial intimacy in your relationship • Sexual intimacy is one of the most important dimensions of healthy marital intimacy. Healthy sexual intimacy includes sexual frequency that oth partners are satisfied with, sexual activities both partners enjoy, and an open dialogue about sex. Olson and Olson (2000) say, “A major strength for happily married couples is the quality of the sexual relationship” (p. 126). They found in their research that the most common sexual concern is differing levels of interest in sex. Happier couples tend to agree in their definition of sexual satisfaction and have fewer worries about their sex lives than unhappy couples. More than half of all married couples, they note, have trouble discussing sexual issues. holier than thou attitude Characteristics of Intimacy
Relationships with healthy intimacy have several factors in common, including the following: • Mutual trust As a husband and wife begin to share more about their lives, they are able to better perceive who their spouse really is. The husband cannot love well if he does not know how she really thinks about a certain matter. The wife cannot be a good helpmate if she does not know well what God is doing in her husband’s life. It is here that we learn as a couple that we are one and can make ourselves vulnerable to each other without destabilizing the relationship • builds a sense of security for both spouses.
You can show it be having no desire to injure your spouse in any way. Though you might unintentionally cause hurt, you won’t hurt one another on purpose. • Tenderness includes gentle expressions of caring. Through touch you can express your love to your partner. This affectionate contact “is absolutely essential in building the emotion of love” (Wheat, 1980, p. 184). • Acceptance is unconditional approval in a relationship. No one is perfect, but acceptance means not holding weaknesses against one other. If you find yourself frequently pointing out your spouse’s faults, work on focusing instead on the qualities you fell in love with. Open communication (An open and honest conversation eliminates pretense) This is the ability to discuss anything with your spouse. It includes sincere expression of thoughts and feelings as well as careful listening. Signs of poor communication include feeling reluctant to tell your spouse about the events of your day or being unwilling to listen when your spouse is explaining how he or she feels. • Caring is genuine concern for your spouse’s well-being. If you do things you know hurt your spouse, you cannot have healthy intimacy. You can develop a more caring heart and mind by learning to think of your spouse’s feelings before your own.
Always ask yourself before acting or speaking, “If I do this or say this, will I hurt my spouse? ” • Apologies are the remedy for mistakes that spouses inevitably make. Recognizing mistakes, taking responsibility for them, expressing remorse for any hurt caused, and making a commitment to change the hurtful behavior are all essential to mending the relationship after a mistake. For spouses who have created a chasm of hurts that separate them, offering a sincere and humble apology is the first step in building a bridge over that chasm.
Even if you believe that your partner made the mistake, you can begin the healing by finding something you did that calls for an apology. • Forgiveness is the process of letting go of anger, desire for revenge, and obsessive thinking about times your spouse has hurt you. It includes giving your spouse permission to have weaknesses, make mistakes, and change. Seeing the goodness and strengths of your spouse along with the weaknesses can open up emotional space for good will to build toward your spouse. Forgiveness does not automatically create trust or reconciliation, nor does it mean you approve of bad behavior.
But it is an important early step toward rebuilding a fractured relationship. • Appropriate boundaries are the limits you place on a relationship. The limits can be created individually or as a couple. These limits include saying “no” when your spouse asks you to do something that goes against your values or is more than you can handle. Setting firm, clear boundaries for yourself and respecting the boundaries of your partner create feelings of safety and trust. If your relationship is in trouble, one or both of you might decide to write a “Bill of Rights” that clearly defines the conditions necessary for staying in the relationship.
For example, one woman told her husband that she would stay in the marriage only if there was (1) mutual respect, (2) no drinking/drugs, (3) no hitting or emotional abuse, (4) no name-calling, and (5) no cheating/affairs. CRITICAL QUETIONS Name the two most important things on the mind of your husband or wife. Has the husband shared and discussed his future dreams in the last three months? Do you like being alone with your spouse walking and talking? Do you sense that there are no barriers between you? In the last week have you consciously restrained your words in order to speak nicely to your spouse?