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Friday, August 31, 2012

In my post yesterday, I gave a few important “vital signs” that can be used to monitor the health of your marriage: communication and selfless giving. Just as doctors use our physical vital signs to look for signs of trouble, you can use these key indicators to keep your marriage strong and fit for the long haul.

Here are two more important marriage health factors:

Total Intimacy

As with your total cholesterol reading, the total intimacy reading in your marriage is made up of multiple types of intimacy. The key to marital health is to keep the components in balance. As our wellness literature put it, “An incorrect balance of cholesterol may indicate elevated disease risk.” So too are spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy all needed, in good balance, to maintain optimum marital health.

Intimacy is organic, a living organism, and so it is either growing or dying. Your marriage is on one of two paths: The Path of Intimacy or the Path of Separation. If you don’t keep a watchful eye on the intimacy level between you, it’s easy to slip unknowingly onto the path of separation. 

  • Spiritual Intimacy
    • Do you pray together regularly?
    • Are you on the same page spiritually?
    • Are you comfortable talking about your faith with your spouse? Do you?
  • Emotional Intimacy
    • Do you attend to the romantic needs and desires of your spouse, regardless of your own needs in this area?
    • Are you emotionally engaged and present the majority of the time?
    • Do you withdraw emotionally either in retribution or in reaction to stress?
    • Do you avoid emotional reactivity in the midst of conflict or do you let your emotions run away.
  • Physical Intimacy
    • Do you make sex a priority, settings aside time and energy for lovemaking?
    • Do you maintain a healthy dose of non-sexual physical contact throughout the day?
    • Do you kiss a lot?
    • Lastly, a question that leads to the next vital sign: What is your…
Sexual Temperature

The truth is, just like your body temperature is a good indicator of the presence of infection, your sex life can reveal the existence of “disease” in some part of your marriage. The difference is this case is that a hot sex life is actually good sign.

When things grow cold in the bedroom, it’s often because there is a problem somewhere else. Examine the other areas of intimacy in your relationship (spiritual and emotional) for signs of strain or pain.  Pain, frustration and resentment from unresolved issues have a way of finding their way into your bedroom and infecting your sex life.

Here are a few ways to take your sexual temperature:
  • How often do you make love? Frequency isn’t everything, but it is important to regularly set aside time and energy for this unique kind of intimacy. Do you know each other’s expectations of “normal frequency?”
  • How comfortable are you discussing your sex life with each other? When’s the last time you asked your partner, “How satisfied are you with the ways things have been going?”
  • Do either of you struggle with sexual shame? How comfortable are you to be naked with each other? Are there any hidden sexual sins that need to be dealt with?
  • When was the last time either of you brought a new idea to the bedroom (or wherever)? Would you say you are stuck in a sexual rut?
  • How often do you think and act sexually outside the bedroom? Do you flirt, plan your encounters, daydream of your spouse, send each other sexy notes or texts?
How are your marriage’s intimacy vital signs? Do you check them regularly? Is your sex life telegraphing issues elsewhere in your marriage? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that sex isn’t that important. It is.

That’s four vital signs so far:
  1. Communication
  2. Selflessness
  3. Intimacy
  4. Sex

I have just a few more to share tomorrow. In the mean time, I’d love to hear your vital sign ideas.


RuthAkin said...

This is really helpful material.

Scott said...

Thanks Ruth. It's easy to stay on autopilot and forget to do these kinds of checkups!

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