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OneFleshMinistry.org - Waking up the Intimacy in your Marriage

Waking up the Intimacy in your Marriage

Written by Carl & Yolanda Bennett
aa_couple_01 When you think of intimacy, what comes to mind? A romantic date? Warm conversation? Candlelight dinner? Spending time together?  And/or Sex?  An intimate relationship is one that consists of caring, mutual trust, and acceptance. Caring is showing genuine concern for a person’s well-being. Mutual trust is the feeling that one person will not be harmed or hurt by another. Acceptance is the recognition or approval of each other. Relationships with these qualities set the foundation for healthy nonsexual and sexual intimacy in marriage.

A loving and joyful marriage is one in which both partners are intimate with each other and are both nonsexually and sexually fulfilled and nurtured. An intimate sexual relationship is one of the most important aspects of marriage. It keeps marriage vital. It is the glue that holds couples together. Without it, small problems become large ones, and large problems can result in destroying the marriage.

Seven Dimensions of Marital Intimacy

Social - Marriage has a social dimension in which the couple enjoys doing things together and look forward to spending time together.
Emotional - Here the couple is able to share personal feelings, trust each other and feel safe and secure.
Cognitive/planning - This includes sharing thoughts about life, making plans together, and discussing goals through having a written vision for your marriage.
Financial - This dimension deals with decisions and actions concerning earning a living, spending money and managing temporal resources.
Spiritual - Marriage has a spiritual and philosophical dimension that includes sharing spiritual and religious attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and life experiences.
Affectional - Marriage has an affectional dimension in which spouses nurture and support each other emotionally and physically, but not necessarily in sexual ways.
Sexual - Husband and wife share their physical love for each other by sharing their bodies and physically becoming one.

It is interesting to note that the dimensions of intimacy listed above, except for the sexual dimension, are developed during dating and courtship. During dating and courtship, the couple develops patterns and behaviors that serve as a foundation for the marital relationship and intimacy in marriage. “The process of establishing marital intimacy is truly a process that begins before the wedding and continues long after.

Spiritual Intimacy

Our spiritual intimacy didn't just happen. We made specific decisions and commitments that made us accessible to what God wanted to do in our marriage. Engaging in a personal relationship with God is the first and most important step in initiating spiritual intimacy. Next, you need to increase your accessibility to God. You need to position yourself in activities that will facilitate a God change in your marriage.
For the first half of our marriage, Yolanda and I were not as close to God as we should have been. Yes, we were morally good people, we attended church, we prayed, but we really weren’t sold out to God. I’m not saying that being a good person isn’t important. God really wants is to have a genuine personal relationship with you. We do this by making the decision to totally sale out to God. When you begin experiencing those defining moment, your life will change.
Your marriage will change. To achieve spiritual intimacy simultaneously in your marriage, it's vital that you both are on the same page spiritually. Being on the same page means you and your partner both need to commit quality time with God.

Praying as a couple

One of the most intimate activities you can share as a couple is prayer. When you talk to God together by sharing your most private thoughts, prayer becomes a team effort and you bond spiritually.  Joint prayer unites a husband and wife into a unified voice. We have found that when we pray together, it's easier to recognize answered prayer. Praying together caused us to communicate throughout the day and causes anticipation about how God will respond.

Emotional Intimacy

This part of intimacy that has been misunderstood for many years; A woman has a God-given need to connect emotionally, but if that need is either not recognized or ignored, she feels that her husband is only using her to gratify his sexual desires. Emotional intimacy is very fulfilling for a woman; although emotional intimacy doesn't replace the need for sex, for a woman, her emotional need is as intense as a man’s physical need. When that need is fulfilled by her husband and sustained through attentive T-A-L-K time, it is much easier for her to move more quickly into a sexual mode.
Can we all agree that after a full day's work both men and women are weary and exhausted?  Sometimes what seems to be the number one issue is that when a husband seems to reserve all his attention for his work and leisure and shows no attention to his wife, she feels unloved. When that happens, instead of having a loving and sexually responsive wife, he will run the risk of being at odds with
Her; you’ll end up getting her wrath instead of her warmth.

Physical Intimacy

All right, I need everyone to work with me as I explain this part of intimacy. When I was studying for this class, I ran across this information: Physical intimacy outside of a committed and loving marriage is like a jet engine outside of an airplane. It may produce heat, thrills, and destruction, but will never take you to great heights and distances unless it is properly installed where it was designed to be. Physical intimacy -- whether sensual kissing, sex or intimate visual stimulation, works best within a committed and loving marriage.
It cannot function fully or properly anywhere else. This is partly because physical intimacy is incomplete without true emotional intimacy, which requires deep trust and confidence in one's partner. Such trust and confidence are only possible with the unwavering commitment that marriage allows. Memories of pre- and/or extra-marital sexual experiences may make commitment and trust more difficult to achieve.  These distractions can interfere with the freedom and enjoyment of physical intimacy with your spouse.
Would you agree with us that married couples ought to be able to discuss their sexual relationship? The following questions can guide a great discussion about your physical intimacy:

1. Is our sex education adequate?
2. Are our individual attitudes about sex sound and healthy?
3. Can we discuss openly and together our sexual feelings and responses?
4. Do we agree on our sexual experiences?
5. When being sexual, do we put the emphasis on sex as a loving experience and not as performance?

Some Thoughts on Protecting Sexual Health in Marriage:

The greatest marriage killer is when husband and/or wife do not give adequate time and attention to their marriage. Nurture all aspects of your marriage
  • Have a date night once a week
  • Take time for romance (Hint: Romance is more than being sexual, recall how you were romantic during your courtship)
  • Learning to be sexual and being sexual are lifelong tasks of marriage; learning intimacy together is crucial to your marriage
  • Remember that good sex and romance begin while your clothes are still on
  • Realize that good sex isn’t just a matter of pushing the “right” buttons
  • Don’t let sexual interaction become a routine matter
  • Don’t carry anger or criticism into the bedroom
  • Don’t make sex too serious. Have fun. Make it a time for intimacy restoration
  • Keep your sexual expectations realistic

Conclusion

I can say that over the last ten years, our marriage has evolved in to a deeper partnership, with increased trust, confidence, and security. Our communication and conflict resolution skills have improved. We selflessly serve each other, always looking for creative ways to express our love and enhance romance.
Our relationship has expanded beyond physical intimacy into a deep spiritual intimacy. To be honest, this new level of closeness caught has really surprised us. I remember when Carl and I made spiritual decisions and commitments that seemed unrelated to our marriage. Our changed spiritual connection has made us stronger and our marriage is more vibrant and exciting. What we learned from this is that our spiritual intimacy was a package deal.