I don’t normally write about sexual intimacy and marriage. However, I have had several couples in my office discussing issues of sexual intimacy and decided to share a few thoughts. To begin with, sexual intimacy is a gift given by God to a married couple…and a gift given by one person to another. It is a precious gift, a special gift; a gift to be carefully guarded and highly honored. Here are three aspects about the precious gift of sexual intimacy I believe important.
The gift of sexual intimacy is sacred. It is holy, set apart. Sexual intimacy is not a crude, common form of intimacy. Instead, sexual intimacy is set apart from the common and made sacred. It is uniquely designed by God to express the creative love between a man and a woman. By that unique design, it allows for an intimacy that can be experienced in no other way…an intimacy that involves not just our bodies but the entwining of our emotions, intellect, and spirit—our whole being. In sexual intimacy we get to “taste and see” that the one we love is good; mentally imprint their scent, touch, and face in our memory; emotionally share a deep moment of unequaled intimacy; and spiritually unite as one. When couples share sexual intimacy (whether holding hands, hugging, kissing, or total sexual intimacy), they engage in a sacred time, a holy time set apart by God. As such, sexual intimacy is not be engaged in lightly. It is set apart for the deep expression of committed love within a marriage.
The gift of sexual intimacy is built upon cherishing one another. Cherish literally means “to keep warm,” “to foster tender love and care.” Sexual intimacy is not something we use to manipulate our spouse. It is an act in which we tenderly cherish our spouse. Realize that cherishing is revealed through caring and caring translates into a loving empathy that opens us up to the needs of our spouse and a compassion that compels us to relieve that need. When we, as a couple, learn to cherish sexual intimacy, we focus on satisfying our partner’s needs and desires, not our own. We also foster an unconditional acceptance of our spouse…an acceptance that allows us to “stand naked and unashamed” in one another’s presence; an acceptance that calls forth and nurtures the best qualities of our spouse’s life; an acceptance that welcomes, even adores and treasures, our spouse, limitations and all. Cherishing undergirds true and joyous sexual intimacy.
The gift of sexual intimacy is to be nourished. We nourish sexual intimacy by pleasing one another. Sexual intimacy is not simply about getting my desires satisfied, but the joy discovered in meeting the needs and desires of the one we love. To nourish sexual intimacy, we engage in sexual intimacy…not just physically but in all aspects of our married life. Sexual intimacy begins by caring for one another and showing value for one another. We nourish sexual intimacy by speaking kindly and lovingly to one another when in the presence of others and when alone. We nourish sexual intimacy by serving one another, helping one another with the “tasks of the day.” We nourish sexual intimacy with words of personal encouragement, actions that contribute to our spouse achieving his or her goals, and loving touch that communicates affection and respect. Holding hands, a hug, respectful eye contact, and playful interactions all nourish sexual intimacy. As you can see, we begin to nourish sexual intimacy long before we move to the bedroom. Sexual intimacy is nourished by a lifestyle that communicates love and affection, respect and admiration.
Perhaps that is the biggest “secret” of all—sexual intimacy is not an act but a lifestyle…a lifestyle in which I set apart all aspects of my life to share intimately with my spouse and no other; a lifestyle in which I cherish and nourish my spouse emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually throughout the day. With that foundation, sexual intimacy culminates in a deep wealth of loving expression and intimacy.