Innately, all of us desire to be seen and valued. Sometimes we convince ourselves that remaining invisible is what we really want or what might be best, but the truth is nobody wants to be invisible. Then some are convinced of the opposite and go to great extremes to be noticed, as we saw in the news this week with Miley Cyrus.
Value. Notice-ability. They go hand-in-hand, don’t they? If we’re noticed, we feel we must have value. So in some cases, we try to get noticed to fill the emptiness in our lives or lack of perceived value.
So what does this have to do with intimacy in marriage? When we place value on one another by noticing, and notice one another by valuing, intimacy sky-rockets. Here are a few things that have worked in my experience.
Communicate effectively and regularly. Think/pray before you speak, and make communicating a priority. Put it on a schedule if you have to. LISTEN!! Yes, listening is a powerful form of communication. After taking the time to listen, it’s always good to repeat some of what you’ve heard, so the other person knows you’re actually listening and care. Listening is also another great way to show respect. Remember, nothing should ever have to be hidden from your spouse, so be transparent. Part of being intimate is allowing the other person to see into you, to know you in the deepest places. It’s much deeper than sex, it’s allowing them to see into your soul. If you can’t have this with your spouse, you shouldn’t have it with anyone on earth.
Remember WHY you got married in the first place. What was your vision for marriage? What were your spouse’s ideas? Are you carrying them out? Create ways to carry out your mission together. What drew you to him/her, and vice versa? What did you love most? Cling to those things. Get creative to keep those things alive in your marriage. For example, if you adored they way he made you laugh, do something to spark the silliness in him. Remind him of how much you love that he can always make you laugh. Remind him of some of the reasons why you fell in love with him. Write these things down in your journal as reminders to yourself.
Affirm often. I don’t know of anyone walking the face of the earth who doesn’t respond positively to affirmation. When we affirm, we tell the person that they have value. Everyone likes to feel needed. Valuing our spouses demonstrates respect, which is something that causes them to soar, and typically they begin returning the favor. So purposefully think of ways to encourage. Whatever you do, don’t provoke! For some reason, women have a few days out of each month (aka PMS) when our hormones cause us to want to pick a fight or kill something. My advice, don’t talk that week 😉 If something ills you, keep it to yourself. There’s a good chance, you’re being irrational. After that week, if it still bothers you, prayerfully bring it up. Remember what we learned as children, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Be POSITIVE!!!
Pray! How does the saying go, “A family that prays together stays together?” There’s probably a lot of truth to that statement. I’ve never seen genuine prayer between two people cause an argument, but I HAVE seen it dissolve arguments. With that said, pray often FOR and WITH one another. There’s power in two people standing in agreement in prayer. Jesus said, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). Imagine how powerful for two people who have “become one flesh” through marriage vows to agree in prayer! I imagine it delights the heart of God. Often people will say, “Well my husband and I both pray, we just don’t pray together.” It might feel a little awkward at first, but I encourage you to try it. Nothing says intimacy like pouring your heart out to God with your spouse listening in and agreeing with you.
Meet their physical/sexual needs. Think of ways to make coming home exciting and inviting for your spouse and not something they dread. Have dinner started. Occupy the kids. Hug, take their hand, or greet them with a kiss. Give them a quick shoulder rub, if this is something they enjoy. God created the sexual relationship between a man and woman to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of marriage. It’s designed to be a pleasant experience, not something to be dreaded. Sexual intimacy is literally as close as you can get to another person, physically. It’s a representation of becoming one flesh, as Jesus suggested in Matthew 19:4-6. And remember, great sex starts long before you hit the sheets. It’s starts with words, acts of service, emotions, and meaningful touch before the bedroom. Take the time to simply touch one another often, then be willing to explore to figure out what works and what doesn’t sexually (another part of marriage that requires a willingness to communicate transparently). And seriously, don’t forget to have fun!
When we take the time to see our spouses and see them deeply, lasting intimacy is unleashed, and it’s there that WE are truly seen.