I’ve learned in 23 years of marriage that there are all kinds of ways to be close as a couple. Some couples have strengths in certain areas, but a lot of us were taught to think of intimacy in a narrow and only sexual way. Yes, sex is part of staying close with your spouse, but I want you to see and be encouraged about your relationship by celebrating other ways your relationship is thriving. Having a fuller picture of intimacy will also help you grow into the future!
I’ve come to believe there are actually six different kinds of intimacy, and not many of us are great at them all. Here are the different types!
❤️ Physical – Connect in snuggles, small touches, affection, holding hands, and sex.⠀
❤️ Recreational – Connect in being active, like-minded in activities, hobbies, and interests that give you both life.⠀
❤️ Partnership/Work – Connect in teamwork; tackling tasks, work, kids, calendars, chores, both all-in at 100%. ⠀
❤️ Spiritual – Connect in prayer, reading scripture, church community, and caring for others. ⠀
❤️ Intellectual – Connect in discussing and investigating the thoughts, concepts, and curiosities of their partner’s brain. ⠀
❤️ Emotional – Connect in sharing feelings well, giving and receiving care, compassion, understanding, and affirmation.
Every relationship is unique and puts on display a different aspect of the types of connection that we get to enjoy with God Himself. Marriage is a picture of our connection with God. Any kind of intimacy can be grown and developed. In the book of Ephesians Paul writes that we should “Follow God’s example…and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…” (Eph 5:1). We all want to love our spouses. Intimate relationship is what we were made for – with one another and God. God created marriage to be a living example of the kind of intimacies that we can have with him, through Jesus.
Here’s my best advice as you consider what you’re great at and where you’d love to grow:
1- Play to your strengths. Do what you’re great at with intention and regularity. Celebrate it. Recognize it in your relationship and be proud of yourselves for it. It’s probably what makes your marriage/partnership so good. Lean on this hard.
2- Don’t beat yourself up in weak areas. We all have them! Marriage is a journey with so many opportunities to build intimacy. If you don’t have one area, no need to panic. It actually could be a fun way to continue building your connection during the next phase of your relationship. Sometimes we all hit upon an area where we have barriers to some sort of intimacy, so don’t be afraid to reach out for the help of another couple or a counselor to help. We aren’t in perfect relationships because we aren’t perfect people. Journey on, friends.
3- Decide on one simple way to keep growing intimacy.
For us, it usually comes back to emotional intimacy. You probably have a pattern, too. We tend not to take the time and energy it requires to share deeper feelings on a regular basis. There are lots of reasons for that: some practical, some personality, some are that stem from past hurts. We don’t have time to get into all those here (and I’m not lying down on a therapist’s couch), but it continually trips us up.
God is a fan of your marriage. And more than that, He’s the X-Factor in your success as a couple. Your marriage is designed to be an example in the flesh of his love and commitment to his people, so it’s personal to Him. Pray! And expect his help. We’ve experienced over and over just how willing He is to help when we seek Him. Here’s my prayer for my marriage and yours:
Father – You are the only one who can help us make marriage work for a lifetime. You have everything we need. Show us how to come to you for help. You’re invited in to help us keep getting closer to one another and to you. Amen.