Jun 10, 2013

Intimacy in Marriage: Part 1 - Defining intimacy


His eyes meet mine, and at that second my heart begins a dance within my chest.  I feel myself sliding into his eyes, a deep, dark chocolate brown, fringed with dark eyelashes any girl would sell their favorite lipstick for.  

Those eyes are looking into mine.  I recognize the look.   It's a love-look.  For just a second I catch my breath, and then his glance flickers down to my hand, he captures my hand in his and raises it up to eye level and kisses my wrist.

Such an innocent and sweet gesture and my whole body is on fire.  My husband loves me and it lights the fire within me.  He and I have been married for nearly 14 years and are just beginning to practice true intimacy in our marriage.

Even as I confess that truth, I recognize the little voice inside me warning me that someone out there is going to judge me or shake their head and tsk "that's just too bad".  Or maybe that some well meaning reader may think I need some counsel on having a regular "date night" or other marriage tool.  We have all of those tools in our tool box, we were just too busy diving into life to use them.

So often, when we hear intimacy, we immediately simplify it to the physical act of love within a marriage or maybe knowing every single thing about each other.  True intimacy is so much more...


Defined, intimacy is:  a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person OR an amorously familiar act.

We are created for relationship.  I have become more aware of how, especially in today's culture, we have no problem calling people "friend" {as in, she's my Facebook friend} without even a hint of intimacy.  We think that because we know what color their child's poop was last night, we have a level of intimacy with them. 

If anything, our cultural shift to knowing more about the "fluff" of our acquaintances' every thought and opinion has watered down what we truly know about them.  We might know how they really feel about gay marriage, or what they had for dinner last night {and maybe even seen pictures of their table}, but we know very little about what is going on inside of them.

Many people {me included} are downright terrified of true intimacy.  Intimacy can be scary if you aren't sure if you are lovable deep down inside.  Because, in effect, true intimacy is this idea of “into-me-you-see”. Intimacy like that is like trying on bathing suits with a friend in the same changing room {that has mirrors on 2 walls}.  It's not that you don't have anything to hide, it's that you can't hide it, even if you wanted to.

Let me just camp there for a moment, and say that again in different words.  True intimacy is difficult for those of us who struggle, at a core level, with seeing ourselves as acceptable or lovable.  If we have some hidden sin in our past {or present}, if we struggle with shame, or trauma, or depression, or just really don't like ourselves, we will have trouble understanding and participating in true intimacy.

Because: intimacy is about allowing someone else to see INTO YOU.  Not the best you can offer {like we post on Facebook, or show at church} but the worst.  Intimacy requires transparency.  Transparency requires close, trusting, safe relationships.  Transparency demands true friendship.  If you live in hiding, because you are worried that if someone actually knew what was buried inside, they wouldn't like you anymore, you are likely avoiding intimacy.

So, when we are talking about intimacy in marriage, I am talking about true transparency with your spouse.  I am not talking about a "Facebook intimacy", I'm talking about what the Bible shows us about intimacy.  This is a huge topic, which is why I am breaking it up into 6 posts. 

Dear readers, let me remind you that my husband and I are only now starting to practice true intimacy.  I am not claiming to be an expert, or some marriage guru. I am sharing what God has been teaching me through my brokenness. There are still things I really don't know or understand, and I suspect that's true for many married couples, so if you have something to add, I would love to hear your input and suggestions. I hope this can be a conversation!

This is the first in my 6 part Understanding Intimacy in Marriage Series, to read more click on the Understanding Intimacy button below or in the sidebar under Series. 

10 comments:

  1. It is a little scary to allow others to see the truth of who we are. However, you're absolutely right, without transparency intimacy is impossible. It's a challenge, but so worth it. If it's so scary for most people, that must mean something wonderful is waiting on the other side!

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  2. "Because: intimacy is about allowing someone else to see INTO YOU. Not the best you can offer {like we post on Facebook, or show at church} but the worst." I love these lines. My favorite friends are those who are not afraid to be authentic or genuine with me because in return, I know I can "let my hair down" with them and be real. There's such satisfaction that comes from such a relationship, whether it be a friendship or a love relationship. Intimacy is difficult and requires taking a risk, but it's so worthwhile! My husband and I just celebrated 14 years, and sometimes I feel like we are just now learning intimacy, too. :)

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    1. :) I think it's something that must come with age, maturity and a certain amount of hard times. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!!

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  3. Intimacy most certainly requires transparency; one cannot be achieved without the other. And intimacy isn't always physical as so many seem to think. Honesty, transparency and unconditional love definitely invite intimacy.

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    1. Shhhh, you are giving away the rest of my series. ;) I agree completely!

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  4. I can hardly wait to read the rest ... real intimacy. turn off the facebook. turn on the real.

    Thanks for joining the melody this week. I would be delighted to have you add your voice each week. I jot some momma notes on Monday ... but its a post whenever you can during the week kind of link up. I get the filled to the brim momma schedules.

    Happy day,

    Sarah

    http://justsarahdawn.blogspot.com/2013/05/momma-notes.html

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    1. Thanks for the momma notes link up!!
      I am excited too. God has been teaching me so much! :)

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  5. Hi AJ,

    Marriage intimacy is vital, and yet hard some days. My man and I use the term "practicing gritty transparency" and work hard at it too. It's worth it. Good job! We can all encourage and spur each other onward.

    Thanks for your kind words at my blog. You make me smile. Thank you!

    Jennifer Dougan
    www.jenniferdougan.com

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  6. Thank you for this! I'm just entering my second year of marriage and I'm learning that I don't have everything figured out. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series.

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