No relationship is easy. It takes constant giving and taking and a whole lot more giving than taking, but it takes work. It takes work to set up the foundation of a strong relationship, but once that foundation is set into place, the rest seems to fall into place a little easier. It doesn’t make life easier, but you have that solid foundation and that is what counts.
I remember in our first couple of years of marriage hubby and I had some rules when it came to disagreements, and even now, we still adhere to those rules: no shouting, no swearing, and no walking away when arguing. It wasn’t really something we spoke about, more than it just somehow happened like that. And I am glad. Because it has set a tone, a foundation, for how we handled all arguments since and will do so going into the future.
And setting that foundation for intimacy is just as important.
There are things that you can do in your relationship that will aid building a solid foundation for the future. The first and most important, of course, is to live your life according to God’s word. God designed marriage and wants our marriages to reflect his relationship with the church and His love for us. That doesn’t mean that marriages will be easy – in fact, it could very well mean that it will make marriages even more difficult, because we are fallen beings. But, trust in the God who saved you, and loves you, and is continually redeeming you.
Kevin A. Thompson has come to be one of my favourite marriage bloggers. I love the blogs I follow written by women, but every now and then a man’s perspective is just what we need. I also love Kevin’s writing style as it really is quite easy to follow. Sharp, and to the point, but then again, I think we often need more “to the point” kind of messages…
Kevin recently wrote a post on 7 Red Flags for Dying Intimacy – and what I really liked was Kevin’s encouragement about it never being too late. If you see any of these red flags in your relationship, you can take swift action now… What you sow, you will reap – so sow effectively into your marriage to be build intimacy, and you will certainly reap the rewards.
- A decline in non-sexual touch. It’s only recently that I have started focusing on touching my husband more. At one stage, I didn’t want any touch from anyone – they say this is normal when you have a babe suckling at your breast for most of the day. But now that Baby Girl has outgrown that, and is a little more independent, being affectionate and touching with my husband is quite welcoming. In fact, I can’t sit next to him without having my hand on his leg, or rubbing his back. Touch is important. And it doesn’t, in fact – it shouldn’t, always be sexual. It should be affectionate, and loving, to convey affection and love. And it’s amazing the difference that touch makes – often that act of reaching out to touch is quite simply what makes us feel closer to each other.
- Avoiding eye contact. When you’re battling in your relationship, or life is just a bit of a struggle for you (well, at least for me…) it is amazing how hard eye contact becomes. I know that with my mother, after my parents divorced, I could not look her in the eye. There was too much hurt, too much sadness, too much anger … and eye contact became quite difficult. And I know that there are times when I avoid eye contact with my husband – for whatever the reason may be at the time. This is definitely an aspect I need to work on to create a deeper sense of intimacy with my man. I like to hide myself away, and you can’t do that when having eye contact – eye contact opens yourself up to that person, it allows them to see who you truly are, it gives them access to you, and avoiding eye contact denies them all that. – thereby diminishing intimacy.
- An absence of playfulness. This is also a hard one for me – I am a serious individual. I like to talk deep things, and analyse, and learn and grow. Playfulness, for me, often seems like a waste of time. And yet, I find myself being envious of those couples who do play – who seem to have this sense of connectedness through teasing, and laughter and fun. I have noted this about myself a while ago, and I have made some progress towards teasing. Unfortunately, hubby doesn’t always get my attempts at playfulness (nor I, his) because playfulness has not really been part of our marriage or our relationship. I am quite happy, though, to work on having fun. Jesus did come that we may have life in abundance…
- Sex becomes a task. Ah, always a big one for me. But, I am happy to report that I have made and continue to make progress here. And I hope to continue making progress going forward. I love making love with my husband – and it feels so good to finally say that. I am learning just how important this is, because very often sex is the only thing that will differentiate your relationship with your husband from any other relationship. Yes, there are many times it will feel like a task – we live in busy lives and sometimes it is hard to get into the moment. But, more frequently, it has become a wonderful way of connecting to my husband and feeling his closeness. I pray that continues to grow…
- Increase in individual thinking. Sometime after Baby Girl’s arrival, both hubby and I stopped thinking about “us”. It became individual as in me, my, I – never us, and we and ours. I can’t quite recall when or how this happened, but I thank God He made me aware of this. And slowly I have started changing my talk back to Us and We and Ours. Even when it comes to our finances, I am learning it isn’t “my” money; it is “our” money. And yes, for a working woman that is quite hard to say. But, it is how God designed it. And changing how you think and how you speak as a ripple effect throughout your marriage and relationship.
- Conversation is all business. I like to talk. When I get home, I find myself telling my husband all kinds of things about my day. I just can’t help it. But, we can’t always just talk business – who must fetch Baby Girl, can you get milk, I need bread, please withdraw money to pay the garden boy, etc, etc, etc… We need to share our hearts, our minds and our souls. And I do think that very often this is easier for women than for men, but my poor hubby walks through that door at night, and I’ve got my whole day lined up to tell him all that has happened. In fact, I start to look for things to tell him. Last night we chatted about how nervous I was about his sister’s upcoming visit – he doesn’t see the issue, but I had to remind him that it’s not about whether he sees the issue or not, its about me being free to share my heart with him. God is really working on our marriage.
- Turning toward others rather than spouse. I have always wanted to phone hubby first. Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t if we were in a bad space, but then I just wouldn’t tell anyone. But, even so, I have made a pointed effort of making sure I tell my husband anything first. Practically, I know it doesn’t always work out like that, but the intent is always there. I am also aware that I use this a “punishment” – that if I am unhappy about something, I won’t tell my husband my news. It’s so silly, because he isn’t even aware of it, but in my mind that is what I do.
These are 7 red flags for dying intimacy, but each flag is also an opportunity. While we should watch for these signs within our relationships, we can also take each point as an action step for building intimacy. If you want to build a closer bond with your spouse:
- Intentionally increase non-sexual touch
- Look one another in the eye
- Be playful with each other
- Attempt to make an emotional connection during sex
- Think “we” more than “me”
- Talk about your heart rather than your tasks
- Make your spouse your first person
A little intention in each of these areas can greatly increase the feelings of intimacy between spouses. Dying intimacy doesn’t have to lead to a dead relationship. It can be the catalyst for relational success if a couple will recognize it and do something about it. Kevin A. Thompson