When two people get married they embark on a journey together, a journey which will entail a process of lifelong learning. Step by step as they negotiate the ups and downs of everyday life they will discover new truths about one another. It is a big mistake when one or both partners think: “Well, now we are married, we will always be as close and intimate as possible so we can just relax and let life go by…” Intimacy in marriage needs to be constantly prized, protected and practiced. Like the flames in the fireplace which can easily die away if more wood is not added, or if water is thrown on them, so you may find one day that there is no intimacy in marriage where there had once been.
When there is no intimacy in marriage consequences inevitably include a decrease in the desire to be together and a couple may feel that they are living two completely separate lives even though they share the house and the bedroom. When this point is reached and recognized by both parties, it is time for some serious steps to be taken in order to restore a healthy intimacy in the marriage. Both spouses need to be committed and motivated, realizing what they have lost and being willing to work towards building intimacy in marriage to a healthy level.
The following steps are a good starting point:
Get back to basics
Think back to all the things which attracted you to your spouse in the first place. Remember those early days when you were so in love that you just couldn’t wait to see each other and spend time together and there was so much to talk about. Think about the things you loved doing together and the favourite places you would go. How about each making a list or writing a letter to your beloved? Tell each other all those things which you value and appreciate about your relationship. Why did you want to get married then and what has changed now? Sometimes all it needs is some time for reflection and remembering what is important to you to refocus and restore your perspective.
Deal with the issues
In every marriage there are inevitably certain issues or areas of tension which cause pain and conflict. These issues in marriage need to be carefully addressed and properly dealt with in order to increase intimacy. It’s like going for a walk and having a stone in your shoe; you cannot enjoy the walk until you have bent down, untied your shoe and taken out the stone. The area of sexual intimacy can be fraught with insecurities and fears which rob the couple of the joy and fulfilment which they are meant to experience.
This is especially true if one or both partners have had traumatic or unhappy sexual experiences in the past. Sometimes it is necessary and greatly beneficial to seek professional counselling in order to iron out these difficulties and gain that freedom to enjoy one another without reservation. Perhaps finances are an issue? Or perhaps it is the extended family and in-laws? Whatever the matter is, when you can speak honestly and openly with each other about it and reach a solution together, you will find that your intimacy will be greatly enhanced, just as the air is cleared after a storm. If these issues are ignored or superficially patched up they generally tend to get worse rather than resolving themselves. Again, it is advisable to seek counselling rather than to try and “bury” your problems or struggle on alone.
Aim at the same goals
Once you have rekindled the flames of your first love and removed the stones from your shoes, it is time to focus on going forward in your relationship together. Talk about your goals, both as individuals and as a couple. If you have children together, what are your goals concerning raising your family? What are your career goals? How can you help each other to achieve your goals? It is essential that you are both pulling together in the same direction. If you find your goals are conflicting or counterproductive, some serious decisions and compromises may need to be made. Once you are both clear about where you are going, you can run together hand in hand. A wise person once said that true love does not consist in gazing at one another but is rather a matter of looking together in the same direction.
These three steps form a good pattern for keeping a healthy relationship and for increasing intimacy in marriage: remember why you married your beloved in the first place and the love that you have for one another; take time to deal with the issues and problems that come between you; and work together towards your common goals in life.