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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
On Monday I challenged husbands to take my 13-day Intimacy Challenge, starting on October 1st and running for 13 consecutive days.
Today it’s the ladies’ turn.
If I asked you whether you have all the intimacy in your marriage that you want, what would you say? Chances are most of you will say “no,” “not really,” or “in some areas and not others.” You see, no matter what the level of intimacy is today, there is always more.
As I pointed out to husbands, according to my new reader survey (available at the top left of my blog), intimacy is the most sought-after topic here at Journey to Surrender. It doesn’t matter how I slice the answers: by gender, years of marriage or whether previously married, the top answer is always “how to grow in intimacy.”
Of course it is likely that men and women have differing intimacy goals, because men and women tend to be wired differently in terms of intimacy needs. To a significant extent, though by no means universally, women are looking for more emotional intimacy or romance, whereas many men are looking for increased sexual intimacy.
Admit it, how many of you read that headline and thought “I will read this and learn how to make my husband more romantic?”
Three Truths About Wives and Intimacy
A while ago I asked wives and husbands to identify the one thing they need most from their spouse. (click here for a graphic of the results). The polarity of the answers between men and women were pretty astounding. Whereas more than 70% of wives most wanted to feel cared for and a sense of emotional closeness, almost that same percentage of husbands most wanted to feel respected and admired.
What the survey doesn’t explicitly show is that these needs expressed by husbands and wives, though very different in nature, both point to a desire for emotional intimacy. The first truth about emotional intimacy is that your desire for emotional intimacy with your husband is similar in nature to his, but the expression of it is very different. In fact you probably wouldn’t even recognize respect and admiration as components of emotional intimacy at all. But for your husband they probably are.
The next truth about wives and emotional intimacy is that most women completely separate romance and sex. Whereas women see these two types of intimacy as totally different realms of their marriage, men don’t see it that way at all. It is true that many women see emotional connection as a pre-requisite for sexual intimacy, yet they clearly separate the two in their minds. For many men, on the other hand, sexual intimacy is inextricably linked to feeling emotionally close. The romantic and the sexual are not so far apart for your husband.
I see this truth as analogous to the way men totally separate spiritual intimacy from emotional and sexual intimacy, whereas women do not. That leads me to my third truth about wives and intimacy: women tend to find that spiritual intimacy fuels both emotional and sexual intimacy. Spiritual intimacy builds a sense of trust and safety for women that in a way that it doesn’t for most men.
Starting October 1st I’m challenging you to spend 13 consecutive days focused on increasing the intimacy in your marriage. What’s not to love about that?
But I’m going to challenge you to take a different approach than you might think. Just as I told husbands a few days ago, I am challenging you to spend those days focused totally on giving your husband the kind of intimacy he most desires rather than fighting for the kind of intimacy you want. It seems backwards, I know, but I believe the results will astound you.
If you really want to get your marriage on the Path of Intimacy and off the Path of Separation, it requires laying down your rights and your agenda and stepping into the way of selfless love. No, it’s not easy or natural, but by lavishly giving your husband the kinds of things that fuel intimacy for him, you will likely see him being much more attentive toward your intimacy needs. It just works that way.
Most of us are pretty good at giving in ways that mean the most to us. We naturally gravitate toward love expressions that we want most and understand best. The thing is that because men and women are so different, this really doesn’t do much to move you down the Path of Intimacy.
So to help you out, in each of my posts over the Intimacy Challenge 13 day period I’m going to give you daily specific ideas on just how to take the intimacy in your marriage to the next level, regardless of where it is at today. However, I’m going to do that by telling you how to build intimacy your husband’s way.
A Few Warnings
My first warning is to be careful of your motivation. While it is quite possible and even likely that giving generously to your husband in this way will make it easier and more likely that he will return the favor, don’t go into this challenge with a “give to get” mentality. Make your central purpose blessing your husband and strengthening your marriage, not getting what you want out of the challenge.
Second, you will need to use your unique knowledge of your husband. By that I mean you will need to fit my daily suggestions into the context of your own marriage. Think about your husband’s personality and preferences and adapt my ideas as necessary. But let me give you a warning about this warning: don’t be too quick to dismiss my suggestions by claiming “that would never work for my husband” or thinking “He doesn’t think that way.” He just might, so don’t assume you know him and his needs that completely. Be willing to take a chance.
Like I told husbands, if you don’t change the way you have been doing intimacy, you aren’t going to get different results.
Are You In?
Are you ready to step outside your own intimacy comfort zone? I strongly encourage you to take the challenge! You won’t regret it.
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I hope you will seriously consider taking this intimacy challenge. You have nothing to lose and a stronger, more intimate marriage to gain. If you are in, I would appreciate a short comment letting me know (anonymously if you wish).
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