Addressing Intimacy Issues in Marriage
Intimacy issues and marriage are not only existent in the bedroom. All intimacy issues are related to how both husband and wife treat each other all day long. Many intimacy issues are rooted in hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and disappointments. When these things go unresolved, distance can grow in marriage in both emotional and physical intimacy. However, you can resolve intimacy issues when you work with a Christian counselor to resolve them.
How intimacy issues in marriage begin.
Every marriage starts on a high. You feel ecstatic that you have found someone to love and support you the way that you always hoped. But reality eventually settles in, because our brains cannot sustain that euphoric first feeling of love forever. It’s also because we are all sinful by nature and will inevitably let each other down, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
When those letdowns occur at the beginning of a relationship, you may not deal with them because you don’t think that they matter all that much. For example, a husband may feel hurt that his wife doesn’t welcome him home, but doesn’t say anything about it.
Another example could be that a wife expected her husband to help more around the house, but she decides to just go ahead and get things done on her own. These little disappointments left untended can start to plant seeds of resentment in the relationship. How you handle them will determine the level of intimacy possible in your marriage.
Some spouses will try harder to get their relationship where they want it to be. They might become bossy with their spouse, or they may choose passivity and expect to be rewarded for it. These dynamics are usually carried over from what you observed or experienced in childhood. They are not necessarily healthy dynamics, but they are what you have seen, and it’s very easy to fall right into them.
However, these approaches usually do not create intimacy in the marriage. Instead, they pit spouses against each other because they are defensive based on their disappointments. They may wall off parts of their hearts against further pain, gravitating toward other relationships, work, children, hobbies, or anything else to distract them from the pain.
The spouses need help at this point because there is a good chance they will stop listening to one another and continue blaming each other for everything wrong in the relationship. If they don’t get help, they could feel like they’re merely living like roommates or even separate from each other.
A qualified Christian counselor is an excellent resource for couples who feel stuck in this cycle and want to get back to the intimacy they enjoyed at the beginning of their relationship.
Ways to restore intimacy in marriage.Intimacy is often sabotaged in ways we don’t intend. For example, when women are upset, men think they need to fix the problem, but women just want to be heard, understood, and affirmed. But men often move away in these situations because they don’t know what to do, and the problem compounds. Men need the same affirmation when they are upset, but they avoid seeking this because they don’t want to feel helpless.
But both wives and husbands can use a number of methods to create an atmosphere of intimacy in their marriage. When couples feel emotionally safe with one another, usually intimacy issues in the bedroom are easily resolved. True intimacy needs to be cultivated outside the bedroom every day so that couples can feel intimate with each other both emotionally and physically.
Look at your past
It can help to understand how your family of origin related to one another because this may affect your marriage. It’s also important to examine past relationships you’ve had with others because those dynamics may also carry forward into your relationship with your spouse.
Once you become aware of the unhealthy dynamics and how you may have contributed to them, you can make changes so they will no longer harm your marriage. A Christian counselor can help you uncover dynamics from the past that are at play in your present and make healthy changes.
Evaluate your expectations
Unmet expectations can erode intimacy between you and your spouse. Make a list of the expectations you had when you first got married, and note which ones are not being met right now. Are they reasonable expectations, or do they need to be adjusted to more achievable levels?
If you set your expectations at a reasonable level, you can reduce your disappointment and develop greater gratitude for what your spouse is willing to offer you. Also, if your reasonable expectations are not being met, you have the opportunity to express this to your spouse so necessary changes can be made.
Show empathyEmpathy is the powerful balm that heals hurts, disappointments, and misunderstandings. Rebuilding intimacy involves carefully listening to your partner. You must learn to do this instead of preparing your own response while your spouse speaks to you. This will take time and practice, but it can be one of the most powerful ways to increase intimacy with your spouse.
As you are listening to your spouse, pay attention to the feelings your spouse is expressing. You can then affirm those feelings, and encourage your spouse to open up even more. Be sure that you are listening without offering advice or making judgments, or even getting defensive. Instead, open your heart to what your spouse is saying, and you’ll pave the path toward deeper intimacy.
Forgive every offense
When couples hold onto grudges, intimacy dies. But if husbands and wives can get into a daily habit of letting go of offenses through forgiveness, intimacy can be rebuilt. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do, but we don’t have to do it in our own power.
We can ask God to help us let go of the hurts and disappointments we experience in marriage so we don’t have blockages to intimacy. Forgiving every offense will prevent the past from having a hold on your marriage, and will help you move forward with greater peace.
Don’t get even
When we are hurt by our spouses, we may transfer old, negative expectations from the past onto them, and this causes much misunderstanding and conflict. You may start to see your spouse as an enemy with whom you want to settle the score.
But rather than trying to get even – which destroys intimacy – make a concerted effort to communicate your expectations and disappointments to your spouse. This takes self-awareness and courage, and you can get to this place with help from a Christian counselor.
Take a daily temperature reading
A daily temperature reading can help you learn to listen better and communicate more effectively with your spouse. It involves five different elements:
- Appreciation for your spouse – who they are and what they do for you.
- New information about what’s going on with your thoughts and emotions.
- Discussing “puzzles” to clear up misunderstandings, such as “I’m puzzled why you have not completed the task you said you’d do” or “I’m puzzled why I got so upset last night.”
- Issuing a complaint with a request for change, but without using judgment or blame. Example: “If you know you will be late, please call and let me know so I don’t worry.”
- Share hopes and dreams, large or small. This will help you focus on the future together.
Making this a daily rhythm may feel awkward at first. But if you keep at it, you will certainly grow closer as a couple.
Address intimacy in the bedroomWe’ve saved this for last because all the other elements mentioned above play into better intimacy in the bedroom. Sex should not be a substitute for the emotional intimacy that is necessary for a healthy marriage. Good sex involves communicating your needs and desires to your spouse and asking them what they enjoy.
Your physical relationship will have greater meaning and fulfillment if your communication inside and outside the bedroom is clear, respectful, and loving. Also remember that you can cultivate physical intimacy with nonsexual affection, such as hugging, kissing, and offering massages.
Christian Counseling for Intimacy Issues in Marriage
Every marriage has its own set of problems. Your intimacy issues are likely very complex, and you may experience a breakthrough by discussing them with a Christian counselor. The value of seeking counseling for intimacy issues in marriage is that you will receive an outside perspective from a professional who has helped many other couples restore intimacy. Reach out to us today to learn how counseling can help you become more intimate with your spouse.
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