Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Real Intimacy in Marriage"

Recently I was part of a panel at our church answering questions about the challenges people face in marriage. It got me to thinking, "What would I say if I could only say ONE thing to or share one concept with married couples?"

I think it would be this: Real intimacy requires closeness and exposure of body, soul and spirit. In fact, this is the outline I use in premarital counseling with couples planning a wedding. We talk at length about how to start and sustain intimacy in each of these areas.

Obviously, couples have a pretty good idea of what physical intimacy is all about although I try to share some practical hints and ideas in that area too. But what they often do not understand is that even physical intimacy is closely connected to the intimacy enjoyed or not enjoyed in soul and spirit.

Let me briefly talk about these other two areas. Soul intimacy involves the connecting of our feelings, thinking, wills and personalities. The soul is of course that part of us that makes us who we really are, the part we don't really see but know is there. The soul involves the deepest recesses of who we are, what we long for and our most passionate affections.

Sadly, many couples never or rarely connect on a soul level. They are too busy just surviving, having a good time, or trying to accomplish things they think will make them happier or more important. Husbands and wives, however, both usually long to be understood, to have their perspective heard and to be accepted anyway. We thirst for soul intimacy but avoid it nonetheless.

This is often why one spouse will be attracted in their workplace, church or community to someone of the opposite sex who pays them some attention, listens to them and treats their more intimate thoughts with greater care.

If we are going to enjoy true intimacy in our marriages then we must both make time to interact on this deeper level and then meaningfully and effectively enter into the soul world of our spouse. We will have to learn to listen well, to put the other person's feelings and thoughts into our own words and then express what we've heard to them. It's not hard, but it takes work and practice. And it doesn't happen overnight.

In my next post I'll give you some practical help on how to connect on a soul level more intimately.

Spiritual intimacy is very closely tied to soul intimacy. Some would even argue that the spirit and soul are the same. I believe there is significant overlap but there also seem to be some distinctives and the Bible tends to use both terms as well.

For now, let's simply think of our spirits as the part of us that communicates and connects with God. By this definition the soul is certainly included in our connections with God, but there also seems to be more. In a marriage, a connection of spirits occurs when people pray for each other, when they discuss spiritual things, when they serve God together and see the spiritual blessings and favor of God in their own lives and in others.

Again, many couples, even those who attend church regularly and would call themselves Christ followers, rarely connect spiritually. They don't pray together or for each other while they go off to church and then head home without a word of interaction about what they saw, heard and experienced.

Real, deep intimacy also must include a regular and ongoing spiritual connection of two people. There are no magic formulas but a simple place to start would be to simply pray for and with each other on a regular basis and/or to talk once each week about spiritual lessons or ideas you're learning as a result of your own spiritual journey.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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