When Barb and I got married, we had no intimacy...we thought we did, but alas, all we had was sex. We had sex, and for awhile that was enough, but that's an outward type of intimacy. On the inside, we barely had any connection at all, and we were busy teaching others how without really knowing how ourselves.
There were several reasons for that—both of us were really unprepared for this marriage and this was not our first rodeo—but a few of the reasons are universal and timeless. We finally spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars learning how to get that part right. I wish that over the years someone had nailed our feet to the floor and taught us these things. So that you don’t have to learn all these lessons the hard way, here are some of the things that may be impacting your own marriage.
Distraction: This is a biggee. We now teach often about the Law of Priority from Genesis 2:24 —
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
If you have been with us for a weekend Marriage 3.0 event, you remember seeing Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv speak about the Vow of Priority. You can see that again by going to the archives of LifeChurch.tv and searching for the series entitled The Vow. http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/the-vow/
This law says marriage has to come first in your priorities, right after your relationship with God. It comes ahead of your children. Ahead of your parents. Ahead of your career, friends, and hobbies. Your spouse deserves the best of your time, energy, and attention. You can't be intimate with a person whose attention is dedicated to other things.
To defeat this human tendency, build traditions and disciplines into your marriage. (* I have included the chapter from our new book 24k Gold Weddings and Styrofoam Marriages on the value of traditions and dates.) Please ensure that you establish a regular date night where the two of you have time alone without the kids. Carve out a few moments every day to talk to each other. Make these times inviolable. Then make some big-memory plans for other celebrations. They are yours and will help you stay focused on each other. This is not optional.
Another type of distraction occurs when frustration or pain causes you to turn your heart away from your spouse.
"Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have." Hebrews 13:4-5
When times get a little tense, it is common to start looking over your shoulder at whoever else is “out there.” You begin to covet somebody else’s spouse when you become frustrated with your own marriage. This is when flirting and affairs begin. Pain within marriage relationships causes many husbands and/or wives to turn their hearts away from their marriage.
To defeat this, commit to internal and external faithfulness. This commitment is more than a decision. It's also an action. On the outside, you must decide to remain faithful by staying out of situations that might cause you to stray. You have probably heard me talk about “making up your mind in advance.”
But it's also important to stay faithful on the inside.
That means a determination, regardless of your anger or circumstances, not to turnaway. Even on the worst days of your marriage, you will commit:
I will not turn my heart away
Not to anything else
Not to my children
Not to my job
Not to my friends, and
Not to any other person.
God is an intimate God and He created us to love. In John 17, Jesus prayed that we would be one with Him and be one with each other.
That word—ONE—describes a profound intimacy in the context of marriage. It means a husband and wife are almost indistinguishable from each other, integrated into each other's lives in a powerful way.
Does that describe your marriage? Do you experience inward intimacy?
Reflect and Respond: Set aside the aspects of life that might be distracting you from your spouse. Look at your issues. Sit down and talk about them. Pray about them. Ask God to help you move beyond them, and commit to discipline and faithfulness...and if you cannot get that done alone, you know where we live. Come see us. We can help.
Your marriage won't change instantaneously, but it will begin to change. That's God's promise. Anything is possible in Him. Stick with the process. Remember that you can act your way to great feelings...and if you want to feel what love feels, you gotta do what love does.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!