Most of us did not marry to find someone to help us around the house. We married out of a desire to know and be known, to love and to be loved, believing that together we could experience life more deeply than apart. In two words, we wanted an intimate relationship.
I am convinced that there are five essential components to an intimate relationship. In the living of life, these can never be segmented into five distinct boxes, but for the purpose of learning, it helps to view them separately.1. Share your thoughts. (Intellectual Intimacy)
We are constantly thinking and making decisions based on our desires. It is what motivates us to do the things we do. You and your spouse live within your minds. If you are to obtain intimacy, you must choose to reveal some of your thoughts to each other. Obviously, you must be selective. The possibility of discussing all thoughts is absurd. On the other hand, the choice to share no thoughts with your spouse assures the death of intimacy.
When I speak of intellectual intimacy, I am talking about the important things in your lives. They may be thoughts focused on finances, politics, food, race, health, or crime, but they are your thoughts. They reveal something of what is on your mind. When two minds link, there is the building of intellectual intimacy. You have the pleasure of learning something of the inner movements of your spouse's mind; that is the essence of intellectual intimacy.2. Discuss your feelings. (Emotional Intimacy)
Feelings are your spontaneous, emotional responses to what you encounter through the five senses. Certain behavior is motivated by your feelings, but people cannot see your feelings.
Discussing your emotions builds emotional intimacy. Allow your spouse into your inner world of feelings by making statements of self-revelation. In making such statements, you are choosing to be intimate with your spouse, revealing something that is going on in your emotional world.
Such discussion requires an atmosphere of acceptance. If I am assured that my spouse will not condemn my feelings or try to refute them, I am far more likely to talk about them.3. Discuss the time you are apart. (Social Intimacy)
Social intimacy is discovered by sharing experiences. Many of these events involve other people. Some of them you experience together; others happen while you are apart and are shared through open communication. Both build social intimacy. Much of life centers around encounters that happen throughout the day - things people say to you, or do for you, or with you, or against you - with which you are forced to deal. It is in verbally telling these events that you come to feel you are a part of each other's experiences. Life is not limited to what happens to you throughout the day. When you share these experiences with you spouse, you sense that you are a social unit, and each of your under- stands that what happens in the other's life is important.4. Open your souls. (Spiritual Intimacy)
Spiritual intimacy is often the least excavated of all the foundations of marital intimacy, yet is has a significant impact upon the other four areas of intimacy. Since marriage involves two individuals seeking to build intimacy, their individual perceptions and experiences in the spiritual realm are something to be discussed.
Spiritual intimacy does not require agreement of belief on every detail. As in all other areas of intimacy, you are seeking to tell each other what is going on in your inner self. Spiritual intimacy is discussing with each other some of your thoughts about spiritual realities.5. Share your bodies. (Physical Intimacy)
Because men and women are sexually different, we often come to sexual intimacy in different ways. Sexual intimacy requires understanding and responding to these differences.
If a couple focuses on making the sexual experience an act of love, and will take the time to learn how to give pleasure to each other, they will find sexual intimacy. It should be obvious that we cannot separate sexual intimacy from emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual intimacy. We have looked at these separately for the purpose of understanding, but in the context of human relationships, they can never be compartmentalized. We cannot obtain sexual intimacy without intimacy in the other areas of life.
Stress, separation, sickness, work, children, and other normal cares of life will affect the time and energy invested in marital intimacy, but in a loving marriage, the husband and wife are committed to keeping intimacy alive.