The 3 Types of Intimacy Every Marriage Needs to Thrive

BY: - 29 Sep '17 | Intimacy

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What exactly is intimacy? When we look at the true definition, everything surrounding intimacy deals with closeness to another person: closeness of contact, friendship, warmth, and familiarity.

This is intimacy and there is no human being on the planet with whom you will share the same level of intimacy than the one you vowed to spend the rest of your life with. But this kind of closeness comes in different forms. If you truly desire for your marriage to thrive, growing in these three types of intimacy will give you a great head start.

Type 1: Sexual Intimacy

First let me say that sex isn’t the only type of intimacy, and it is a problem when we start confusing the two. But it is one of the ways that you experience intimacy with your spouse. Opinions vary on the level of intimacy that sex includes, but if we look at the common words in the definition—personal, private, contact—there is something inherently intimate about being that close to another human being.

It’s one of the reasons why sex is supposed to be reserved for our spouses and only our spouses, because there is no one else in the world who can know you that intimately.

Even if we understand our own relationship to our faith and enjoy our own intimate relationship with God, we often think of our spiritual paths as personal and separate from one other.

Just as intimacy can lead to sex, sex can lead to intimacy. The intimacy cycle is important for both partners, but the connection between the two can be different for men and women. “Many men can’t feel intimate with their partner unless their sex life is satisfying, but many women can’t enjoy sex without intimacy. For men, sex feeds intimacy, and for women, intimacy feeds sex.” [Excerpt from Real Sex for Real Women by Dr. Laura Berman]

Sex can be both an intimacy barometer and an intimacy igniter. If its lacking, it may be an indicator that another one of your intimacy areas is lacking, but if its lacking, it also means that you aren’t connecting physically, making that disconnect grow greater.

Sex (or lack thereof) is one of the cornerstones in the intimacy cycle. If you’ve got lots of intimacy, you’ve got lots of sex, and therefore lots of intimacy. If you’ve got no intimacy, you’ve got less sex, and therefore less intimacy. It’s up to you to decide where in that cycle you want to be!

Type 2: Emotional Intimacy

Emotional intimacy is how close you feel emotionally to your spouse. It speaks to the type of connection that you share with one another, the non-sexual affection that you show, and how you communicate, openly and honestly. In its simplest terms, emotional intimacy speaks to the friendship that you share with your husband or your wife.

Being a true friend to your spouse can be just as, if not more, important as being his or her lover. A true friend is someone you can trust with your deepest secrets and innermost thoughts. A true friend is someone you can expect to always have your back. A friend is someone whom you can look toward for encouragement and acceptance.


Last, but certainly not least, a friend is someone you can have fun with and simply enjoy being around. You may share a certain level of emotional intimacy with a number of people in your life, but the intimacy you share with the one you come home to, wake up with in the morning and sleep with every night, should be unmatched.

Type 3: Spiritual Intimacy

Most couples can get a firm grasp on sexual intimacy. Few people would argue that sex is completely unimportant to a marriage. Most folks can also understand the concept of emotional intimacy. They understand that love and marriage isn’t only about sex, otherwise there would be little need for the “marriage” part of the equation. We understand that old-school saying “homey-lover-friends.”

Spiritual intimacy is a little more complex and a lot less understood. Even if we understand our own relationship to our faith and enjoy our own intimate relationship with God, we often think of our spiritual paths as personal and separate from one other.

Understanding spiritual intimacy is understanding that in a marriage those separate paths do intertwine. Simply put, spiritual intimacy is about knowing how to connect with your spouse through your faith. It is about using your belief systems to draw closer to one another.

According to Dr. Dwayne Buckingham, relationship expert and founder of the company, R.E.A.L Horizons, LLC, spiritual intimacy goes beyond even your shared religious beliefs. “Spiritual intimacy is not just religion,” he says. “It is a shared meaning and purpose behind your relationship.” Spiritual intimacy unites you as a couple around one shared vision for your lives and partnership that you can build your marriage around.

A healthy marriage will unite all of these areas of intimacy. A healthy marriage ties together the sexual, the emotional, and the spiritual like no other, making the relationship unique to the others you may have. By embracing and implementing all three, your marriage will grow in leaps and bounds and thrive for years to come.

BMWK, are you ready to see your marriage thrive?

About the author

Aja Dorsey Jackson wrote 214 articles on this blog.

Aja Dorsey Jackson is a freelance writer and marriage educator in Baltimore, Maryland and author of the blog and book, Making Love in the Microwave.


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What Should I Do to Create Sexual Bliss in My Sexless Marriage?

BY: - 14 Nov '17 | Intimacy

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Dear Dr. Buckingham,

I’m 30 years old my husband is 40 years old. We have been married for 2 years but together for 6. He is a nice guy and loves me very much. I love him because I know he loves me. Over the past year, we have had sex literally four times. Sex with him was never great, but it has become unbearable recently. I have never been physically attracted to him. Also, I do not get any satisfaction from making love to him. He is 130 lbs over weight, has smaller than average man parts and doesn’t participate in any foreplay (no touching, kissing, oral, nothing). Only one position and he lasts 10 minutes if I’m lucky. I’ve tried to express my feelings but he doesn’t get it.

Some of my friends say it’s the age difference, he doesn’t love me, he may have health issues, etc. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve thought about sleeping with someone just to get that need fulfilled. I’ve even thought of divorce. I do not want either one of these options but I’m losing sleep over this. What Should I Do To Create Sexual Bliss in My Sexless Marriage?


Sexless Wife

Ask Dr. Buckingham

Dear Sexless Wife,

Sorry to hear that you are in a sexless marriage. Unfortunately, you are not alone. According to Newsweek, 15 to 20% of couples have sex less than 10 times a year, which is defined as a sexless marriage.

Although I do not specialize in sex therapy, I have provided counseling to individuals who were in sexless marriages. One of the many problems that I often address in therapy is the difference between love and intimacy.

You stated that you love your husband because he loves you. You also stated that you have never been attracted to him. Given these two statements, many people, including myself, are probably wondering “Why Did You Marry Him?” I assume it’s because of love.

Many individuals get married based on love and underestimate the importance of intimacy. Love is simply defined as a powerful, compassionate and intangible emotion that directs the hearts of women and men. However, love is an emotion that can remain stagnated if intimacy is not present. Intimacy must be present in order to have a marriage filled with sexual bliss. Sexual bliss is defined as happy and fulfilling sexual intercourse and bodily pleasure that occurs in a passionate and monogamous relationship with a loving partner.

I believe that the key to experiencing sexual bliss is to develop a marriage built on intimacy. Intimacy is defined as a secretive sexual relationship that involves a sense of deep emotional and spiritual connection with a close or warm partner. The key words in my definition are deep emotional and spiritual connection. Without a deep emotional and spiritual connection, sexual bliss is difficult to achieve.

In my book, “Unconditional Love: Give and Receive Unconditional Love and Make Your Marriage Last Forever,” I describe three levels of intimacy and also provide an intimacy assessment. Given your current situation, I would recommend that you secure a copy of my book, seek professional counseling and stop discussing your sex life with your friends. I know that you might find comfort in them, but the connection or lack of between you and your husband should not be girl talk.


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Here are six tips for creating and sustaining sexual bliss in your marriage.

  1. Conduct an assessment of your current level of intimacyDetermine if your marriage was built on or is operating on the right level of intimacy. Greater understanding increases the capacity for greater intimacy. This task can be accomplished by using my Marriage Intimacy Assessment (MIA).
  2. Focus less on physical intimacy and more on developing spiritual intimacy. Become a student of your spouse and learn about his emotional and spiritual needs. Be mindful that an in-depth and soulful connection with your husband outside the bedroom can lead to a blissful sexual relationship inside the bedroom.
  3. Make time in your schedule for sex. Make sex a priority in your marriage. Have a meeting with your husband and schedule sex dates.
  4. Pray for renewed and rejuvenated commitment. Think about the covenant that you made before God and use that as motivation to renew the romantic feelings for your husband.
  5. Remain resilient and do not give up. Resilient couples find solutions in problems. In contrast, troubled couples find problems in every solution.
  6. Seek counsel if you are struggling with creating or sustaining sexual bliss in your marriage. Instead of learning by trail and error, please get help. Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards. – Vernon Law

I pray that your sexless marriage turns into a marriage filled with sexual bliss. Remember that spiritual intimacy can intensify emotional and physical intimacy, but physical intimacy cannot intensify emotional or spiritual intimacy. Sexual bliss is a by-product of spiritual intimacy and harmony. Also, remember that the libido is powerful energy that provides temporary pleasure, but spiritual intimacy is life-changing energy that provides long lasting pleasure.

FREE RESOURCE: 31 Days of Scripture to Protect Your Marriage

Whatever you do, please do not cheat on your husband. I believe in karma and remind people that karma is not punishment; it is what they put in the atmosphere.

Best regards,

Dr. Buckingham

If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to

Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.

About the author

Dwayne Buckingham wrote 219 articles on this blog.

Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham, author of Qualified, yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single and Unconditional Love: What Every Woman and Man Desires in a Relationship, is a highly acclaimed international clinical psychotherapist, life coach, relationship and resiliency expert, motivational speaker and corporate consultant. He is also the President and Chief Executive Officer of R.E.A.L. Horizons Consulting Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland. To learn more about Dr. Dwayne L. Buckingham visit his website at


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