Remember the movie Urban Cowboy, and one of its hit songs “Lookin’ for Love” (Johnny Lee)? Bud and Sissy are “lookin’ for love in all the wrong places,” and get so hurt in the process.
But don’t we all. We get wound up in knots looking for a kind of love we believe must be there, but somehow can’t quite seem to find.
Two people getting married naturally believe things are going to be perfect from that day on. And then they too often become disillusioned when things get difficult.
The intimacy of marriage can be scary, and it can also be incredibly healing. That’s how marriage was intended to be: for two people broken in different ways, going through life with each other CAN bring healing to our brokenness. It’s one of God’s best methods of helping us become what He knows we can be.
Someone who knows everything about you and loves you completely anyway is a picture of the kind of love God has for us. In our messed up world marriage too often falls short of offering that kind of love, but with some practice we can come close. At least as close as human beings can experience.
Intimacy has only a little to do with physical contact. True intimacy is much more a matter of the soul than of the body. It’s been said that the ear is the true organ of intimacy.
Are you looking for love? What can you do to increase the intimacy between you and your spouse?
- Be real. For most people, the more you open parts of your own heart and soul, the more your spouse will do the same. If you keep some things hidden true intimacy cannot happen. Yes, I believe that in a healthy marriage, husband and wife tell everything, share everything. There are no secrets.
- Be safe. You can’t expect your spouse to intimately share the potentially dark parts of their soul if you respond to their revelations with criticism, or worse. See yourself as a safe receptacle for your spouse’s secrets. Do all you can to communicate that safety to your spouse.
- Be honest. When you do see something in your spouse that hurts you or bothers you, be honest about how that affects YOU. Choose the time, place, and way in which you communicate it to them. But if you keep your feelings hidden it will push you apart. Though this kind of openness can feel painful, when you successfully work it through, it will bring you much closer.
- Be patient. You may think you experienced the best intimacy on your wedding night, but that’s only true if you let it be. Time together, years together, going through life together, can bring you so much closer if you are intentional about it. Learning more and more about each other CAN bring increased intimacy. Don’t force your spouse to a level of intimacy they aren’t ready for yet. If you are a safe listener and patient, they will likely come closer.
- Be intentional. Intimacy doesn’t happen by accident. Come closer on purpose. Talk. And above all, listen! Choose to risk coming closer. The results will be worth it.
Can you get hurt if you practice this level of intimacy? Sure. But the only possibility you have of experiencing the joy and exhilaration of radical intimate love is to risk the pain.
As C.S. Lewis wrote: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
If you’re married, I invite you to continue to work toward radical intimacy with your spouse – body, mind, and soul. And if you’re not, please don’t settle for a cheap physical imitation! But that’s a post for another day.
Your turn: How is your intimacy level with your spouse? How have you worked to become closer? Is there anything keeping you apart? What can you do about it? I’d love to hear from you!
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