Anyone who has been married for more than a day knows that men and women define hundreds of words differently, and in most cases, very differently.
Intimacy is such a word. In our marriage class/small group we always ask the husbands and wives to define it for us. Want to know what they say?
Wives – “closeness”, “connected”, “oneness”, “emotionally close”
Husbands – “sex”
Upon further investigation, the word “sex” is typically expanded to mean physical oneness or closeness.
Our culture almost always associates intimacy with sex, or in a sexual connotation (intimate apparel, intimate setting), so it is little wonder that men do too. Truth is – all the answers given above from our class are correct. Where couples fall woefully short is by not understanding or appreciating the other spouse’s definition.
So – for the men reading this blog, here is a brief overview of what you need to know about your wife’s definition (and expectation) of intimacy. I would also encourage you to ask her for her definition of intimacy.
1. Intimacy does not equal sex. Granted intimacy may end up as sex, but to most women (your wife may be the exception) intimacy is not defined by having sex together. To her, intimacy means closeness. “I feel close to my husband, emotionally” is the definition we most often get from wives. What this means in practical/man terms is: we have spent time together, we have talked through the many issues on my heart, I feel caught up with what is going on with him, I feel that he loves me and values me, I feel safe in our relationship, I feel cherish, I feel connected. These things cannot happen without having been physically together in a non-sexual way, talking, processing life and issues and connecting as friends more than roommates or business partners.
2. Wives don’t have pop-up blockers. A typical husband can come home from a horrible day at work, having run over a dog along the way, have a headache and a deep desire to plop into his favorite chair – but if greeted by his wife dressed in her little black dress who informs him the kids are eating dinner at the grandparents house – can instantly be all-in for sex. Wives, on the other hand, would need to talk with you about her horrible day and process her feelings about it. Cry a bit over the poor dog who ran out in front of her car, take some headache medicine and want to get off her feet as well. If you greet her in your newly purchased red, satin speedo – there will be absolutely no arousal or burning desire that magically wells up in her that makes her want to have amazing sex on the kitchen table. She cannot block out all the events and relational issues of her day like a man can. Once again – it takes time, understanding and conversation (processing).
3. Wives are not porn stars. Statistics tell us that nearly 90% of all men (husbands included) have viewed porn at some point in their lives and as many as 70% view it on a regular basis. The women (paid performers) they watch always greatly desire sex, greatly enjoy sex and are greatly satisfied by their partner. This leads to many problems for men, but particularly when it comes to expectations. They cannot help but want to experience some of that “greatly” from their own wives. When they don’t, they subconsciously feel slighted and become more emotionally distant from their wives. This leads to more pornography, which leads to more disappointment and emotional distance – a very vicious and intimacy-killing cycle.
Spend mass quantities of time with your wife. Sit and talk, go for a walk, hold hands, court her, pursue her – make her feel special, loved and cherish. Talk with her about her day, her anxieties, her fears, her dreams. Help her out around the house and with the kids. Ease her burdens. Lighten her loads.
Don’t expect her to desire to meet your need for physical intimacy until you take the time/effort to meet her need for emotional intimacy first. That’s what a leader does. That’s what laying your life down for another means.
That’s what Jesus did for us….regardless of our performance or response and expecting nothing in return. Don’t be so selfish that you only serve, love, help when you want sex.
Flee from porn if you are dabbling or using regularly. Get a mentor, an accountability partner, or even a formal treatment program if necessary. It is worth it. Your marriage, your children, your legacy – are worth it. Don’t let the enemy destroy your life and your home.
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” Eph. 5:25
If we will learn to do this – we will have the amazing marriage we’ve always wanted.