As a therapist, I have seen so many clients over the years that show up in my office due to a lack of intimacy in their marriage. That may not be what they write on their intake paperwork, but that is what is revealed as we begin discussing lack of communication, infidelity, or just plain outright conflict, resentfulness, and yick feelings towards one another. As someone who has been married 25 years myself, I realize that somewhere along the way, life happens, we just get busy, and stop being intentional with intimacy.
Why? Because we take our focus off of God first, and then each other. Our spouses stop being the priority in my life. I displace it onto kids, work, life, friends, family, fun, and … me. Yep. Me. That’s called selfishness. Then I stop thinking about what I can do for my spouse and I start thinking about what I’m not getting, or how my needs are not being met. This really opens the door for me to begin meeting some of those needs in other places. Yep. I crossed over. Our intimacy suffers, and we become disconnected in our relationship.
The reality is that I can’t control what my spouse does or doesn’t do. I can’t control if he love me or how much he does. I can’t control how he shows it or if he doesn’t. I also can’t control how he does or doesn’t meet any of my needs. However, I can control me, my thoughts, my actions, and my reactions. Not only can I, but it’s my responsibility. I’m responsible for me, even when it comes to intimacy.
The word says that we are to LOVE God and LOVE others. His command is that we choose love above all else. If that’s the case, then what does choosing to love look like? Love in marriage is sacrificial… OFTEN. Do you hear me? Often. It’s not only when I feel like it, when it’s convenient, or when he or she deserves it, but the point is that it’s my responsibility to love sacrificially and intentionally, in my marriage. When I get to Heaven one day, I know I will be held responsible for my part in my marriage, not his. The reality is that if you know what to do that’s right, and you choose not to, it’s sin.
Ouch. I know. It hurt me too. Are you ready for a transformation in your marriage? Are you ready to get connected to the one you chose to be with forever? Are you ready? Maybe? Yes? Well, keep reading!
How do I start to repair the intimacy (with or without my spouses help), when we feel so disconnected?
Yes. Mind-shift. Sometimes we all need a reset button. Things have been said that can’t be unsaid. Things have been done that can’t be undone. You can’t do anything about it. There are no take-backs. You just have to decide you are putting down the bad and keeping the good because it’s valuable to you.
Shift your focus from what could have been to what could be.
Shift your focus from what I’m not getting to what can I give.
Shift your focus from why can’t I trust him to what can I trust him with.
Shift your focus from I’m ready to live my life at the status quo to I’m not giving up because I deserve to live my life to the fullest.
Shift your focus from I’m not good enough to the Father in Heaven chose me so the He says I’m good.
Shift your focus from whatever is hindering you from moving forward to choosing to do it anyway.
Shift your focus from the fear of what-ifs to the vulnerability that’s required for growth.
It’s all a choice.
I know that I make it sound easy. I realize it’s not. Just know that it’s a process of continually seeking God and shifting your focus from the one who takes life to the one who gives life. I never said it was easy, but it’s doable. Keep it in the front of your mind that Satan wants nothing more than failure and disappointment in your marriage, and that includes intimacy. Remember, he came to kill, steal, and destroy. God loves marriage. Remember, a chord of three strands is not easily broken.
Once again, it’s a choice. Yes, it can also be a process too. It takes preparation, choosing to forgive, and then remembering you forgave when it comes up again for you. Why forgiveness? Well, Mathew 6:14 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” I’m no Bible scholar but that sounds like an expectation to me (and quite possibly, a requirement).
I’m not going to turn this post into an article about forgiveness, but, I want to make one last point that really resonated in me when I heard it. I heard it said that in the Word of God, it says that our sin was forgiven by the blood of Jesus and when we hold unforgiveness, it’s like saying the blood of Jesus was not good enough to cover their sin in the same way it covered mine. Let that sink in for a second. Who am I to hold unforgiveness when the Creator of the Universe gave up His only son so that we ALL could live a life of eternity with Him if we accept His free gift of salvation? Forgiveness is essential in our relationships (and for intimacy).
I’m not saying to stay in an abusive relationship or to continue to accept abuse of any kind. If you are in an abusive relationship, your safety is the most important. If that is your situation, you should seek help.
But regardless of whether you stay in a relationship or not, forgiveness is needed for you to heal. On a sidenote, even when we carry unforgiveness for other people (for instance, a past relationship), it can spill over into our current relationship and impact intimacy.
I would assume, since you are reading this post though, that you are ready to move towards gaining more intimacy in your relationship, or you are at least contemplating and figuring out what’s required of you. I would encourage you that true love is always worth it, and marriage is worth fighting for. Okay, I’ll write more on forgiveness in the near future… back to the challenge.
- Mini-goals…BE INTENTIONAL… PLAN
For the next month, pick 3 mini-goals to do each day. It could be anything from the list below, or you can make up your own. Just pick 3, write them down in a notebook, on a planner, or put them in your phone (set an alarm if you think you’ll need the reminders), and do them. Every single day. Oh… and don’t make it monotonous. Mix it up. Make it fun. Make it a surprise. Also, this is a good way to learn about your spouse. Make a special note about any positive reactions so you can do those kinds of things more often. This is being other-focused.
- Follow through
Keep on doing good, being affectionate and kind, no matter the response you get. Don’t give up. Intimacy is worth the effort!
Yes. I said it. Repeat. Do it all over again… from step 1. Forever. That’s marriage. It’s choosing to love my spouse with everything I have, consistently.
Examples of mini-goals:
Give a back rub or a foot rub
Send a thoughtful or flirty text
Gaze at your spouse and ponder what is wonderful about him/her
Hug for 30 seconds (Do this one daily)
Read scripture together, or do a short devotional and talk about it
Write a short meaningful note and leave it where he or she will find it
Pray for each other
Kiss for 30 seconds
15 minute conversation about the day where you listen to each other, without judging or fixing problems
10 minute pillow talk dreaming of the future, or walking down memory lane
Fill up the bathroom mirror with sticky notes which say positive things to your spouse/or about your spouse
Compliment your spouse
Back up your spouse with your kids (Don’t undermine or take over). Support each other.
Make them their favorite drink and bring it to them
Cook a special meal for them
Take a chore off of their hands by doing it for them
Buy them their favorite candy bar or treat and hide it where they will find it
Plan to go on a date and hold hands in public
Set a goal or two together
Do a household project together
Wash dishes together and chat
Send a sweet, random text
Dress up for your partner
Play a fun game together
Look at old photos together and reminisce
Have a picnic on the living room floor and pretend you just met
And by the way, I didn’t include sex on purpose. 😊 Haha! Of course, you can include sex on your list because it is very important that it’s not the only thing on your list, because sometimes in couple relationships it is used to replace other forms of intimacy and connection.
Just a little something to ponder …
Notice I didn’t say to expect intentional acts in return, or only do something if your husband (or wife) gives you the right kind of emotion or response when you make intentional efforts. I didn’t say try it for a week. No. You have to do it on-going. Daily. Consistent. Forever. Regardless of the outcome. Remember? You are responsible for you.
When you made the choice to marry, you agreed to choose your partner over all else (aside from God). The same way that we have to be intentional in our relationship with God and others, we are required to put our best effort into our spouse. Have you taken the Love Test lately? No, it’s not some special survey I made up. It’s about holding myself accountable to what the scripture says I signed up to do. Check it out here and read my results, then do it for yourself.
Do you have other ideas to add to my list? Comment below and share them with us all so we can try them in their our marriages! Also, if you are looking for a new book on marriage to read, below this post are some of the best ones I have found. Transform intimacy in your marriage so you can enjoy life together!