Marrital Intimacy In Christian Marriages - Creating Emotional Connection 'God's Way'
When it comes to marriage, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as Christian men is to think that sex and intimacy are the same. Yes, they’re connected, but they’re different.
Sex is physical, but intimacy is emotional. And believe it or not, man can live without sex; Jesus, Paul, and other men in the Bible did. But no man (human being), including Jesus, can live without intimacy. I'm talking about an emotional connection with another (to be known in your innermost being by another person). Because God built us for intimacy - first with Him, and then with other people.
Sexual Intimacy In Marriage - What Exactly Is It Anyway?
They say the word “intimacy” can even be broken down in syllables: IN-TO-ME-SEE. And the question we're all secretly asking ourselves is, "If I let you SEE-INTO-ME, will you still love the parts of me that are ugly, filthy, and broken?"
We all have an innate desire to be loved unconditionally by others; because without it, there's no intimacy. And God gave us that desire for HIM to fill, and then out of that overflow, He wanted us to give and share that love with others, starting with our wives, children, and neighbors (in that order).
Sex is just ONE WAY (a physical way) to feel intimacy in our marriage; but it's not the only way to experience intimacy. Just think about our children. We love them unconditionally, but we don't desire to have sex with them to feel intimately close to them.
Instead, we become intimately close to them by emotionally connecting with them, building trust, sharing our joys, pains, hurts, fears, and struggles, and experiencing life with them. And that bond, once established, is almost impossible to break. Because it's a REAL connection.
Is Having Sex The Only Way To Experience Sexual Intimacy In Marriage?
If sex, which is just a physical component of experiencing sexual intimacy in your marriage, is the main stumbling block that's keeping you from experiencing true intimacy, then your relationship is built on a shaky foundation. Because if Jesus said, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Father," then neither should we (or our wives) live by sex alone.
But just because man can live without sex doesn’t necessarily mean he should. The truth is, there are couples who, physically, can't have sex with each other - even if they wanted to - due to their physical or mental impairments (think paralysis, Alzheimers, or Dementia).
But the rest of us struggle with not having sex with our mates because we physically can have sex, but choose not to. And this becomes mentally, physically, and emotionally frustrating. This frustration and anxiety, in turn, opens the door to anger, guilt, shame, doubt, fear, insecurity, and feelings of rejection.
Creating Sexual Intimacy In A Struggling Realtionship
So, what is a Christian man to do, if he finds himself “sexless” in a marriage? Does just he give up? Does he just accept his fate of being in a sexless marriage for the rest of his life? Does he look for other alternatives to scratch his sexual itch? Or does he just find another wife?
The answer is “NO” to all of the above.
If you’re a Christian man struggling with no sexual intimacy in your marriage, I’m here to give you some hope along with some proven, practical steps to bring back the intimacy in your marriage, which will ultimately lead to more sex in your marriage.
But before we get into the “how to’s,” let’s first examine the “why not’s” of why there may be no sexual intimacy in your marriage. To overlook this part would be short-sighted and naïve. So, I want you to start with these four things:
Check with a doctor to see if it's physical. If you’ve lost your desire for sex with your wife, check your testosterone and estrogen levels. Could it be erectile dysfunction; pre-mature ejaculation, or physical pain during sex (for you or her).
Communicate with your wife about what you each physically and emotionally desire from sex. Because you can't meet the other person’s needs if you don't know what they are.
Compromise on the frequency. Instead of starting an argument on your lack of sexual intimacy, talk about frequency, and agree to meet somewhere in the middle that would satisfy the both of you.
Confront your emotional barriers to sex. Are there some past infidelity issues in your relationship; past or current porn viewing? Be open and honest about it.
No sex in a marriage is not something that happens in a vacuum; they’re layers to the problem. There could be a lack of trust, no communication, insecurity and shame (with the physical body), fear (associated with rejection, performance, trauma from abuse, or childhood teaching of parents), or it could be physical (it hurts, physically uncomfortable, or for health reasons). But you have to find out what you’re dealing with, so you can effectively deal with it.
Now that we’ve gotten the possible “why nots” out of the way, let’s get down to the “how to’s” in increasing the intimacy between you and your wife, which will ultimately lead to more sex with your wife.
Is Lacking Security In Your Marriage Effecting Your Ability To Connect?
First of all, intimacy in any relationship (whether with God, man, or our wives) is all about us feeling safe and secure in being vulnerable, real, uninhibited, and feeling loved unconditionally.
So, ask yourself, "How intimate are you and your wife right now?"
Do you or she feel safe and secure enough to share your secrets with each other? I’m talking about the things you DID and usually HIDE that causes you shame, guilt, and remorse.
Do you or she feel safe and secure enough to share your struggles with each other? I’m talking about the things that make you FEEL insecure, inadequate, or not enough in your own eyes.
Do you or she feel safe and secure enough to share your scars with each other? I’m talking about the hurtful and painful things that happened TO you in the past that keeps you from moving forward with each other.
Do you or she knows what the other needs to FEEL loved (i.e., each other’s predominant love language)? I’m talking physical touch (not sexual), words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, gifts.
Do you or she communicate each other's love language consistently? I call this the 6th love language that makes all the other love languages real.
Sex Isn't The Only Emotional Currency - Intimacy and Connection Is
Think about it. God created us to delight in us so we could delight in Him; that’s intimacy. And if, for some reason, we’re not experiencing true intimacy with the Father, it's not because He doesn't offer it to us; it's because we choose to reject His offer of intimacy instead of accepting it. Just like God, we should be pursuing intimacy (not sex) with our wives. Here’s how:
Never make sex an idol in your marriage. Although sex is important in a marriage, it should never be the most important thing in your marriage; and you should never make it the goal. Instead, make emotional intimacy (connection) the goal.
Check your motives of WHY you want to have sex with your wife. In other words, strive for intimacy - looking to give satisfication versus lust - looking to receive satisfaction.
Always look for opportunities to communicate about sex when you’re not having sex. Ask her about her needs; and share yours with her. Ask questions about your expectations before, during, and after sex.
Focus on building the different levels of intimacy with your wife. In our men’s organization, Real Men Connect, we teach and train men on nurturing four (4) areas of intimacy that eventually lead to more sex with our wives:
Spiritual Intimacy: Talk to each other regularly about your challenges and victories in your personal pursuit of Christ. Share revelations you’ve received from God; books you’ve read, sermons you’ve heard, or podcasts you’ve listened to. Consider doing marriage devotionals together.
Relational Intimacy: Plan and do fun things together that involves plenty of laughter. Plan date days where you can play games, compete, and enjoy each other’s company. In other words, work on building a friendship with your wife.
Emotional Intimacy: Develop a dialogue with your wife where both of you can be open, honest, and transparent about your feelings – whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent. Listen to connect, not correct, with one another. Provide her that safe place where she can share her secrets, struggles, and scars with you.
Physical Intimacy: The physical intimacy I’m referring to here is not sexual. This is referring to touching your wife in “non-sexual” ways. Things like rubbing her feet, giving her a back massage, holding her hand when you’re walking, kissing her on the cheek or forehead, holding her while she sleeps, etc.
In summary, if you want to have a God-honoring, spirit-filled, satisfying relationship with your wife on an emotional, mental, and physical level – that leads to more sex in your marriage, then get in God's divine order for relationships. And that’s pursuing intimacy BEFORE sex; satisfying the Spirit BEFORE satisfying satisfy your flesh; and focusing on building an emotional connection BEFORE having a physical erection.