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Intimacy in Marriage, What is it Really and How Can You Have it?

Simply put, intimacy is more than sex or making love. It's more than the physical or even emotional connection you feel with your partner. Intimacy involves a soul connection between two people.

While instant chemistry can be exciting and thrilling, the chemistry that makes marriages work usually grows over time. This special chemistry between two people involves excellent communication and self sacrifice more than physical attraction. It takes trust, patience, and willingness to talk and to listen.

With greater intimacy, married partners can have a more satisfying and fulfilling romantic life. They can learn what pleases each other. For example, your wife may not like flowers all of the time. She may desire a massage, or a well cooked meal. Or your husband may not want the latest fashionable sweater. It's a clean car or your full attention, he desires most.

Being able to express what you want is important and genuinely listening to your spouse are key factors in building an intimate romance. Unfortunately, these skills aren't fully developed in most marriages, so as the saying goes: "Married people can be some of the loneliest people in the world."

What generally inhibits partners from building deeper relationships with each other?

Cary Barbor writes, "One partner (often the woman) will fight to break down defenses and create more intimacy while the other (often the man) will withdraw and create distance. So the "dance of intimacy" follows: If the woman gets too close, the man pulls back. If he moves too far away, she pursues, and so on." -- Finding Real Love 'Intimacy and Alienation, Psychology Today (Jan 2001)

She also comments that we often try to recreate and fulfill our childhood desires through our marriage partners. We're attracted to people because they remind us of our parents (OR what we wanted our parents to be). When we realize that they are too much like our mother or our father, we become frustrated, communication breaks down, and we build self-protecting "walls".

So how can you grow in intimacy with your marriage partner? Here are some keys to unlock the mystery of deeper intimacy.

Determine what you really need out of the relationship. Is friendship more important than financial stability? Or must the bills be paid on time even if your spouse doesn't have much time with you? Can you sacrifice long conversations for more affectionate behavior? Or do you need to talk things out no matter how long it takes? The list can go on.

Determine what your spouse really needs. At first your husband or wife may be reluctant to share what he or she needs. They may have never really thought about it in an organized fashion. Maybe it would help to have him/her write down his/her desires when he/she is relaxed. Some suggestions: do a really nice deed for your partner like, drawing a warm bath or cooking a nice meal. Then ask them to take the time to think about what they need in the relationship.

Make an effort to change your behavior everyday. If your partner needs more space, draw back a little. If they need more of your time, tune out any distractions and pay attention to your spouse. You may start with fifteen or twenty minutes with no TV, phone, computer, radio, etc. and then gradually increase your time to one to two hours of uninterrupted time per day.

Finally, take care of yourself. If you are frazzled, you won't be a fun person to be around. Make sure that you have your own "me" time everyday where you can pray, meditate, and take care of your personal needs. Whether it's writing in a journal, reading a good book, giving yourself a manicure, or just vegging out, do it. You and your spouse will be happy you did.
About the Author

Keishia Lee-Louis is the Executive Editor of (November 2005). Her work has appeared on,, and in many other publications. Currently, she's writing a book on marriage and relationships which will be published in Spring 2006. To read more of her work see


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