SOURCE: Sam Black/Covenant Eyes
The Path to True Intimacy and Better Sex
Typically, guys spell intimacy S-E-X, said Dr. Dan Erickson. It’s not entirely our fault. Our sexualized culture has encouraged the misspelling, and it has distorted the definition too. Intimacy in our culture often describes a “what,” Erickson said, whether it is sex, intimate encounters, intimate clothing, or an intimate evening. The list goes on.
But intimacy is not about a “what,” it is about a “who,” he said. Intimacy is better spelled “in-to-me-see.” The point is to look into another person and invite them to look into you. Intimacy can be found in deep platonic relationships, and in marriage intimacy allows a husband and wife to open their hearts and minds to each other. Intimacy is a free gift that you give and receive.
“It’s amazing what that will do for your life,” said Cathy Erickson, Dan’s wife. “Men, if you are intimate, and loving, and caring for your wife, you will get all the sex you need.”
Intimacy Requires Your Time
Intimacy didn’t come easily to the Ericksons’ marriage. They had been married 19 years when Dan was inspired by a sermon to ask Cathy to rate their marriage on a scale of 1 to 10. He approached the question with bubbly enthusiasm while she stood in the kitchen cleaning after Sunday lunch.
“I said, ‘What marriage? You really have to be here to have a marriage,’” Cathy recalled. “That was kind of a shock to him.”
Dan had looked at himself as a driven and accomplished man. He had earned his master’s and doctoral degrees, and was the executive pastor of a Phoenix, Arizona, church that drew 3,500 people on Sunday and which boasted the largest Christian school in the state. He coached his kids’ teams and served in the community. He sought to win the hearts and admiration of everyone…except his wife.
His time had been given elsewhere and he had defined intimacy with his wife as sex.
For years afterward, Dan said he did not preach on how to have a good marriage, because he knew he had to figure it out for himself and develop that deep level of intimacy in his own marriage. Today, Dan and Cathy provide seminars across the nation to share their story and paths to a rich marriage.
Intimacy Isn’t Sex
A common refrain is that men give love to get sex and women gives sex to get love. Any marriage based on that equation will suffer, and both parties will be disappointed.
True intimacy allows open communication, it invites a person to see you as you are, warts and all, and it means that you will be vulnerable to each other. True intimacy comes with trust, time, and confidence in the relationship. It is about giving and sacrificing for your spouse, putting their emotional needs ahead of your own, and seeking ways to show love without expecting something in return. The aim is to make your spouse feel treasured, respected, and loved without hidden motivations.
During a period of physical problems with his heart Dan was unable to have sex and discovered not less but even greater intimacy with his wife. He often asks guys if they could be more intimate with their wives if they were physically unable to have sex.
That concept sounds foreign to many men, because we need to change our view of intimacy, said Dr. Brad Miller of Restoration Counseling Service. “True intimacy can be emotional, spiritual, or physical, but rarely sexual,” he said. “True intimacy seeks to answer: ‘How can I know you better?,’ ‘How can I meet your needs?,’ and ‘What can I do for you?’”
“Intimacy in marriage is the duct tape that steadfastly binds a husband and wife together, even when it feels like things around them are falling apart,” Miller writes. “Additionally, it is this same intimacy that glues an elderly couple together in ways that defy our cultural mindset, even to the point of one spouse selflessly insisting on caring for the other who is handicapped by a debilitating mental or physical disability.”
Building Greater Intimacy
Though there are others, Erickson encourages people to include four ingredients in their recipes for intimacy.
1. Affection and caring. Non-sexual touching, hugs, and kisses are important. If your wife anticipates you want sex when you hug or kiss her, you have a problem that needs time and trust to correct. Also, pray for each other. Take time for each other, and show each other love and respect.
2. Vulnerable communication. Marriage should be a place where spouses can share anything, including their childhood, their pain, their crazy dreams, their disappointments, their hopes, and anything else in safety. Safe and vulnerable communication is non-judgmental and one spouse shouldn’t be trying to “fix” the other.
Listen more and listen well. God gave you one mouth and two ears, so use them accordingly.
3. Mutual living. Intimacy includes a desire for spouses to be together and share their experiences and daily life. Certainly, everyone needs time for solitude or personal hobbies, but there should be an intentional pursuit of enjoying time together. Often love and affection are measured in both the quality and the quantity of time you give.
4. Mutual giving. Do you look for ways to please your wife? For instance, Dan took over doing the laundry and washes the dishes and cleans up after meals. Do you seek ways to relieve her stress, to serve her, and make her feel special? Plan special dates with her, and let her know ahead of time so that she can be ready.
Finally, God will make you a better spouse if you are open to his Word and instruction.
“A couple’s marriage is a reflection of their intimate relationship with God,” Erickson said. “The more intimate their relationship with God, the more intimate they become with each other, and the more intimate they are with each other, the more intimate they can be with God.”