Thank you for your responses to last week’s survey! Your words brought a smile to my face and a lump to my throat. I appreciate your honesty and encouragement and will seek to address your questions and suggested topics in future posts. Today, I relate the differences in how my poodles interact with me to developing a sweeter intimacy in marriage.
Before breakfast, before a rawhide chew, and before play—Max, my male poodle, leans his big body into mine and groans with ecstasy. My grandfather used to say, “Grunt big,” when he embraced us. Max grunts big.
On the other hand, work comes before affection for our female fluff-ball. Cosette has earned the title “Secretary of Squirrel.” With military posture, she watches over the bird-feeder from her post at our kitchen window. She ignores any attempt to engage her. Her body tenses when a squirrel appears; she looks to me and zips to the front door where she can sneak around back for a surprise attack. After she’s chased them off, she trots in smiling, tail wagging. Now she’ll connect with me.
Does one dog love me better than the other? After Max’s effusive morning greeting, he assumes his independent mode. Cosette is the one who comes when I call. After watching her obey, “Mr. Independent” will mosey towards me. Throughout the day, Cosette gently nudges me and settles at my feet.
What would my relationship with my dogs be like if I expected them to love me a certain way? What if I got my nose out of joint when Cosette chased squirrels before greeting me? What if Max’s independence hurt my feelings? You can be sure I wouldn’t enjoy my pets very much, and they wouldn’t enjoy me if I squelched their personalities.
How does this relate to intimacy in marriage? Sexual intimacy is usually higher on a husband’s list of ways to express closeness. It trumps food, work, and play. It taps his desire to be emotionally close.
Emotional connection is usually higher on a wife’s list. When she feels emotionally connected to her man she’s more open to physical closeness. But when she is worn out and emotionally empty, sex becomes another duty on her never-ending to-do list.
So how do we bridge the gap?
7 Tips for Connecting
- Seek to understand your spouse’s needs. Sex and respect are tied together for men. As a man feels respected when his wife willingly shares her body with him, so a woman feels loved when her man shares his heart with her.He feels respected when his wife shares her body w/him: she feels loved when he shares his soul. Click To Tweet
- Guard your thoughts. What we focus on grows, and emotions follow thoughts. Do you want to feed your disappointments or the good in your relationship? “Dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about” (Philippians 4:8, TLB).
- Give sincere compliments. Say “Thank you” and “I love you” often.
- Develop your friendship and reestablish trust. If hurt has created distance, take small steps. Sit close. Hold hands.
- Schedule one night a week for couple time. Turn off the computer and cell phone. Play a game, watch a movie, take a walk, or read to each other. If there are children in the home, tell them this is your date night. That means you won’t answer homework questions or talk with them after a specified time.
- Cultivate spiritual intimacy. Discuss a Scripture passage or devotional. Pray together. Share what God is doing in your life. Proverbs is a great book to discuss.
- Keep fun in your relationship. Laugh often. “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22, NASB).
I appreciate Max and Cosette’s individual personalities, even though they sometimes frustrate me. I’m also glad God made men and women different from each other, even though our differences sometimes challenge us. Embracing them produces a deeper love than fleeting passion.
Question: What helps you build and maintain intimacy in your marriage?
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Debbie W. Wilson
For more on this topic you might enjoy Kevin Leman’s book Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage.
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