5 Ways to Achieve Intimacy in Your Marriage

A text chat between mother and son:
Mom: Your great aunty just passed away, LOL.
Son: Mom, why is that funny?
Mom: It is not funny David! What do you mean?
Son: LOL means laughing out loud!
Mom: Oh my goodness!! I sent it out to everyone, I thought it meant lots of love. I have to call everyone back!
That, ladies and gentlemen, is probably a very good reason why parents should keep off text messaging. But then again it helps illustrate how often times, what we say, what we mean, and what the other person understands can be three totally different ideas. Good communication is the link to real intimacy. In order for us to achieve the deep level of intimacy we desire as couples, we need to continuously work on how we communicate with each other. If only we could learn “….to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19). Below are some 5 pointers that are working wonders for our marriage in the journey towards better communication and consequently, intimacy:

1. REALLY listen and pay attention to what your spouse is saying
Hun and I have both been guilty of not doing this, though, one of us is more guilty than the other…. Hun, I will not name names. Earlier on in our marriage and only until recently, this used to frustrate me to no end. During disagreements, when it was my turn to speak, Hun would be ‘assembling his line of defense’ in his mind and would barely hear a thing I said.

Well, the truth is even when paying full attention, conversations often get misinterpreted. And the disagreement evolves from the original issue to what was said or how wrong the other person understood it. Recently, we learnt an important tool that is really helping us with this; we call it ‘I heard you say’, where the recipient repeats what s/he heard the spouse say, and the initiator either agrees or corrects it if not accurate. We actually think this tool is powerful enough to bring about World Peace.

2. Keep communicating no matter the season your marriage is at
Never give the devil a chance to whisper lies to you putting walls between you, through silent treatment. Hun and I have really tried to make this a culture and as a result we have benefited from it much. We usually never stop talking through things, no matter how difficult the issue is. At worst we can go for a day with yes/ no type of conversation. Sometimes we usually begin talking about an issue and the conversation goes south so quickly our heads are left spinning so we abandon it. When this happens, we take some minutes/ hours breather and continue with our normal routine and cordial conversations. HOWEVER, we usually still take the matter up again, say the next day and usually find this time it can take a record 2.5 minutes before heading south once again. And a week or sometimes longer can go on like that until we find by the end of it, we actually tackle the conversation to the end. Depending on how aggrieved we feel about the situation, sometimes we call in Refs, and we are blessed to have special couple friends in our lives who we can be free with, whom we share common values and we know would remain objective. Every married couple needs such.

3. Be truly vulnerable with each other, naked and unashamed
Until you can learn to be completely open and honest with your spouse, only then can you attain real intimacy. Does your spouse know your fears, your vulnerabilities, your not-so-rosy past? The Society we are living in has erroneously focused so much on sex as the yardstick of intimacy, and this could never be farther from the truth. Fulfilling sex between a married couple is a byproduct of spiritual and emotional intimacy, otherwise no matter how good the sex is, it leaves one feeling empty. Learning all the sexual gymnastics in the world while failing to work on the spiritual and emotional intimacy is putting the cart before the horse. That is why, in my opinion, in spite all the ‘great’ sex advice brides-to-be are given during bridal showers, marriages continue to ail… because sex alone does not constitute a relationship.

4. Commit to use positive and respectful language that does not belittle your spouse even during disagreement; to learn to attack the issue and not the person
In his book, Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas gives a very interesting perspective on the purpose of marriage. That what if marriage was a refining tool, for God to teach us to love like Christ. That if we are unable to love our spouses, whom most often we have chosen for ourselves, how can we possibly love a dirty homeless stranger? Indeed marriage does test our ability to love beyond the warm fuzzy butterfly feeling. When love graduates from a feeling to a daily renewal of commitment. You commit to always view your spouse as an intimate friend and as such to respect them no matter how angry they have made us. To not be verbally or physically abusive or put each other down.

5. Purpose to continuously affirm and appreciate one another

Affirming and appreciating your spouse fan the delightful sparks in marriage. It makes us feel good about ourselves and leads to open sharing with our significant other knowing that they ‘got you’. This draws us into each other’s world and helps us see their outlook of life. Ladies our (very macho) men require affirmation. Always appeal to the king in him. Cheer him on, while on the mountain top and when he is down in the valley below. May we not wound the soldier in them with criticism and harsh words. Our words go a long way in establishing how open our husbands are with us, and subsequently emotionally intimate.
Affirmation and appreciation also usually act as an investment that sometimes carry you through the rough patches in your relationship. I have an interesting body that oscillates between 58Kgs and 74Kgs with reckless abandon. One day am petite and a few weeks later I can compete in Sumo wrestling. Through it all, Hun always makes me feel like the hottest creature on this planet. And not just in words, it is the way he looks at me. This and the many other ways that he affirms and appreciates my role in his life, helps me put things into perspective during those rough days. In a way it has created a sense of confidence and security in that no matter how terrible things seem, my best friend would never walk out on ‘us’.

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