If you’d like to know how to increase the intimacy in your relationships, let’s begin with a simple definition. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “intimate” as follows:
1. belonging to or characterizing one’s deepest nature
2. marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity
3. marked by a warm friendship developing through long association
4. suggesting informal warmth or privacy
5. of a very personal or private nature
Interestingly enough, the one word missing from the definitions is the word we most often associate with intimacy: sex.
So often when we talk about intimacy, we make those two words synonymous. When you hear someone say “He and I were intimate,” the words are used to describe a sexual relationship. Very rarely do you hear the words intimacy or intimate and take them to mean, “We sat very close to one another and talked, revealing extremely personal things about ourselves.” And yet, by definition, intimacy can mean just that, or it can mean a whole lot more, or a whole lot less.
When couples talk about problems with intimacy or how to improve their intimacy, they are usually referring to issues involving their sex lives and addressing it by tackling their issues in the bedroom.
Have you ever been there? You bought the lingerie, the candles, or the flowers. You did all of the things you were supposed to do to spice up your sex life with your spouse. This will most definitely give us back that intimacy that we’ve been missing, you thought. But after you did everything you were supposed to do, somehow your efforts failed. Maybe not all the “spicing it up” methods resulted in the great sex you had in mind. Or maybe even after that physical connection took place, you still felt like that emotional connection was missing. The reason? Because it is your intimacy that you should be addressing in the truest sense of the word.
Often, if your sex life is suffering it is because your marriage is suffering in at least one of the areas of intimacy. If you see a married couple who is enjoying an active sex life, chances are their contact, friendship, warmth, and familiarity extends far beyond the bedroom. By the time they get to sex, it is just a natural extension of the intimacy that they already share.
Problems with intimacy reveal themselves in the bedroom, but they stem from a too-often-forgotten area of non-sexual intimacy that needs to be present in any marriage. 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. Intimacy isn’t just important for what happens in the bedroom; achieving that level of closeness is important in every other room of the house. It’s more than just foreplay.
The warmth, the closeness, and the friendship that exists layered on top of your commitment to one another is the glue that holds your relationship together and helps support your marriage foundation. Not only does it feel good to know that you can come home to a place where you are loved, known, and appreciated, it also acts as a constant reminder of why we chose the ones we chose in the first place.
BMWK, are you being truly intimate in your marriage?