Last week I began a series dealing with Fighting and Marriage...specifically, fighting FOR your marriage. Last week I discussed why the Gottman Institutes's Love Maps are a great way to connect, or re-connect with your spouse, along with scripture explaining the reason God created marriage. This week, let's talk about INTIMACY.
I know my husband reads my blogs and is probably cringing right about now. Why? Because in our marriage, the intimacy issue has been brought up more times than either of us can count. But before I tell you about that (which means you need to keep reading), I have to stop and share this: Let me tell you right now- INTIMACY DOES NOT MEAN SEX! And before we go any further, let's back it up real quick to last week when I offered you some conversation starters to connect with your spouse. You do not go from a conversation starter to jumping into bed...you simply DO NOT! And if you believe it should, then you most certainly need to keep reading this post!
As a mother raising two amazing sons, the first lesson I teach them about the opposite sex is this- "Above all else, show respect." Respect. It's the building block for everything else. Friendship should always come first. The happiest of marriages are based on the deepest of friendships.
Earlier this year I was honored to be asked to chaperone my son and his date on their very first high school Homecoming dance. My oldest son asked a wonderful young lady to the dance who was a friend he always trusted and admired as someone who is confident in her beliefs. And yes, he admits, she's very pretty. I was beyond proud watching him treat her with the utmost respect as they took a train (his favorite thing in the whole wide world-trains) to a city north of us to dinner (don't worry, my husband met us at the train station to pick us up to take us to the restaurant) and opened doors for her, seated her first, told her to not worry about a thing because he had it covered (he worked hard to earn money to be able to do this). My husband and I sat in a different area of the restaurant and as I periodically checked in on my son and his date, they were constantly laughing and enjoying their conversation. The next day after the dance, I asked my son how he felt about this experience and he said, "Mom, I think I set the bar high. I hope (girl he took to dance) knows that she always deserves to be treated that way, and I don't feel bad that I set that bar high, because why wouldn't you do that? It gave me great joy to be a gentleman."
As I think about my husband, I wonder, does he get great joy from treating me like a lady? Does he still enjoy laughing with me and talking about anything and everything? I can tell you, the answer is yes. How do I know this? Because he shows me this daily. (Well, almost daily because let's face it, sometimes work stresses do get in the way.) We take time out to spend time together. To talk. To pray. To just be.
FRIENDSHIP LEADS TO INTIMACY.
And again, intimacy is NOT sex. Intimacy is defined as close familiarity or friendship; closeness.
This is where the cringing I mentioned above comes into play. I often criticize my husband for not being intimate enough. (First off, did you see that??? I said I CRITICIZE. Whoa. Maybe that's part of the issue, right???) I tell him he never holds my hand, that he doesn't kiss me enough, that he doesn't tell me nice things unless I specifically fish for those compliments. NO WONDER HE CRINGES!
Yet, my husband will wake up early and clean the kitchen from the night before if I was too tired to pick up dinner messes. He packs lunch daily for our youngest son because he knows that's one less stress for me, who's always running late in the mornings. He makes our family breakfast on weekends. The list goes on. Perhaps this is a form of intimacy?
If you have ever read "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman, then you already know the answer to that is yes. Josh and I are just speaking two different love languages. He shows his love and intimacy with acts of service. I want physical touch and words of affirmation. So if we aren't speaking the same language, what do we do?
We find appreciation in one another.
Proverbs 3:27 says, "When it is in your power, don't withhold good from the one it belongs to." When your spouse does something for you, thank them. Trust me, I still find this hard to do at times, simply because I am a selfish person and don't really think about it in the moment, but rather later when I am reflecting on my day. I should be better at telling Josh then. Or, if he is already asleep, I should write it down for him to know I thought about him. Do you think you could do that too?
This week, I'd like you to try this activity that I am taking straight out of Dr. Gottman's book, "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work".
Monday- Think this thought, "I am genuinely fond of my spouse."
Write down one characteristic you love about your spouse.
Tuesday- Think this thought, "I can easily speak of the good times in our marriage."
Write down one great memory from your marriage, recounting as many details possible
Wednesday- Think this thought, "I can easily remember the romantic, special times in our marriage.
Close your eyes. Allow yourself to remember one of those times. Watch the replay in your mind.
Thursday- Think this though- "I am physically attracted to my spouse."
Write down one physical attribute you like.
Friday- Think this thought- "My spouse have specific qualities that make me proud."
Write down one characteristic or quality that makes you proud.
By beginning to really appreciate one another, your intimacy towards one another grows.
Remember, beauty fades away. We all grow old, our hair will turn gray, youthful skin will become wrinkled. But true respect and appreciation for your spouse continues to grow.
To conclude this week, let's focus on Romans 12:10
"Love each other with genuine affections and take delight in honoring each other." (NLT)
Dear Precious Lord, thank-you for my husband. Thank-you for the many ways you have shown me to appreciate the man you made him to be. Lord, when I am nagging and asking for my selfish needs first from my husband, I pray you guide me back to your Word, allowing me to relish in the Love you have for us, knowing that You loved us first. I want to love my husband with a love so deep and so wide, Lord. I pray you protect our marriage Lord. In your name, Amen.
Next week I will dig further into this because THEN the discuss of sex will the topic!
This book is a must read for anyone wanting to make their marriage better and stronger. It is the resource used in this series. You can find it here through Amazon.
Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1999). The seven principles for making marriage work. New York: Three Rivers Press.
Stacie Stoney has a Master's Degree in Christian Counseling and Life Coaching from Liberty University, and has been trained as a Leader for the Gottman Institutue "Making Marriage Work". She has also been a middle school PE teacher for the past 18 years. Stacie is really great at helping others find their Light, Passion, and Purpose. She specializes in Marriage and Family Coaching, teaching how better communication skills creates more love and understanding. But mostly, Stacie is MOM and WIFE, and believes her number one job in this world is to raise her amazing, Christ-centered young men and serve her husband with encouragement and patience. God is good all the time, all the time, God is good!
Contact StacieStoneyCoaching today for your marriage, family, or life coaching needs. Or perhaps you just want to enjoy a great conversation and make a new friend, because that's very special indeed!