intimacy in marriage


How Can You Meet Your Wife's Need For Emotional Intimacy?
By Gary and Barbara Rosberg
America's Family Coaches

(c) 2000 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg
Used with Permission

We wives flourish as we emotionally engage with our husbands and know that you are really listening. We love being in the spotlight of your attention. But you men love it just as much. Often Gary will walk in the back door, swing his sport coat around and over his head and yell "baby, your handsome dog is home. Let's talk!" He'll have me doubled over with laughter, and then he takes advantage of the moment, tickling me. And I've got to admit that laughter relieves all the stress of a bad day for both of us.

We treasure our sharing time at the end of the day, and it sets the tone for the entire evening as we stay connected. When Gary shows me his continual love and active presence, when he openly shares with me about anything and everything, I see his devotion to me. And I am so attracted to him.

June's husband has a high stress middle-management job for a large utility company. Yet he takes time at least once a day to call her. Sometimes it's to tell her what's happening with him. Sometimes it's to check up on her day. And sometimes it's just to say, "I'm here for you. I love you."

This kind of connecting, taking the time to tune into each other, builds security and intimacy in a relationship. It's part of what makes a marriage great. Your wife has an intense drive to be emotionally transparent with you. She needs to know everything about you. Not so that she can possess or control you, but so that she can experience true oneness with you. That's what intimacy is on the deepest level: when you let her get into your soul and you get into hers, win together you reveal do you are to each other, when you talk about everything and anything, when you share your opinions and perspectives.

When a woman feels secure and safe enough to fully disrobe emotionally with her husband, that's as good as it gets. And I'll give you a clue: if your souls undress before one another, your bodies will follow.

If you provide this kind of intimate emotional environment for your wife, your life will never be the same! But in order to do that, you have to do several things:

Show Her an Understanding Heart.

Are you judgmental with your wife? You probably quickly answered no to this question. But think about it. Do you, either by your words or your attitude, sometimes make her feel ashamed or silly about the way she feels? Do you tell her she worries too much? When she dreams big, do you offer reasons why it won't work, or get the defensive?

She's watching you every day, all week. If you are not consistently tender and appreciative, she will find it difficult to trust you and give herself to you completely. For a woman, intimacy must be genuine and constant, and believe me, she knows if you just turn on the charm when you want her in the bedroom.

God wired women with the desire to experience mutual emotional nurturing. The moment you realize how strong this need is for your wife - and you're willing to go the extra mile in achieving it - your marriage can be transformed!

Want a few tips?

- Pray with her daily. And remember to thank God, in her hearing, that he has given you such a wonderful wife.

- Meet her for lunch, and ask her want you could do to lighten her load.

- Enter the conversation when she is sharing a story were burdened by repeating what you heard and cheering her on. She needs you can be her advocate.

- Tune in to your wife the minute you walk into the door at the end of the day.

Give her attention and affection.

The Bible encourages husbands to be attentive to their wives. "In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together" (1 Peter 3:7).

Has your wife ever said, "you are not paying enough attention to our marriage"? If she has, she's really saying, "I feel emotionally distant from you, and you're not paying enough attention to me!" How did you win her in the first place? You gave her your undivided attention. You listened to her. You were thoughtful about the small things.

A loving husband cares for and nurtures the real woman inside his wife. Be specific. Point out positive changes she has made her life. Stop and take a good look at what she's doing in her world. But do more than notice; say that out loud. Your wife also needs your closeness, your nonsexual touch that communicates genuine carrying and reminds her that she is loved for more than just her body. Your gentle touch communicates to her: "I'm here. You're not alone. I enjoy you. I'll take care of you."

Attention to the smallest details shows your wife you are thinking of her and that she is the most important person in your world.

- Romance her. Give her a kiss and a hug when you leave home and return home.

- Buy tickets to a musical that she loves.

- Give her a long-stemmed rose as a public declaration that you love her.

- Make an effort to spend time alone together: go out to dinner, go for a walk, go out for coffee. Show her (and others) that you enjoy the intimacy of being alone with her.

- Go with her when she runs errands to the mall, grocery store, or bank. Show her that you enjoy being her companion.

- Surprise her with a picnic lunch, including tablecloth and candlesticks. Or build a romantic fire, and snuggle together with a blanket and hot chocolate.

Build rapport with her.

When men talk to each other, they "report." They talk about scores, highlights, events of the weekend, new car performance - the list is endless. In their "report talk" men condense their stories and edit out the details to get to the point quickly.

Women, however, are wired for "rapport talk." Details are important to women. We don't want the abridged version; we want the whole nine yards. As we talk, we discover who we are and why we think the way we do. We process as we discuss. We resolve issues as we converse. We "talk it through." Somehow our hearing, speech, and thoughts are all interrelated, and we need to have all three working at once to express ourselves fully.

So if you want to connect emotionally with your wife, you must build rapport with her. Your wife wants to know what you are thinking. She wants to process things with you.

Resist the urge to "solve it" - whatever "it" is. Your wife needs you to acknowledge her feelings; she needs to know that what she is saying is registering with you. Even if you don't agree with her, your acknowledgment of her emotions lets her know that you aren't dismissing them by overlooking them and rushing to suggest a solution.

Recognize her strong emotions as exclamation marks. When she is upset, angry, or frustrated, realize that these emotions are her way of letting you know how very much this matters to her.

Resolve conflict.

In Ephesians 4:31-32, Paul tells us to "get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Indeed, be kind to each other, tender hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you."

You cannot connect emotionally if you are living with, or stirring up, resentment, bitterness, grudges, or anger. These emotions are toxic to a relationship. In the spiritual realm, the enemy uses these emotions as doorways to usher in every kind of disorder in a marriage.

Draw on the power of your wedding vows, and allow this commitment to break you loose from the chains of disharmony that can so easily keep you from true emotional intimacy.

Resist any desire to use critical, resentful, or sarcastic words. After a marriage seminar, one woman wrote me this note: "how grateful I am for the impact your talk made on Rick in the men's session at the "Five Love Needs of Men and Women" Conference. He has heard it one million times: words hurt women! But your word picture of how it physically hurts us, as if beaten by stones, finally hit home."

You've heard the expression, "don't give it a second thought." Well, you can't afford to give negative thoughts and negative comments a foothold - a second thought - if you want to remain clearheaded and clean hearted with your spouse. A woman will never connect emotionally, intimately, with a man who tears her down.

Have you ever been around couples like that? Where you cringe emotionally when you hear a husband say cutting things to his wife? Critical words. Demeaning words. "Put-her-in-her-place" kinds of words.

I cringed over that very thing recently in an airport. I was in the baggage-claim area waiting for my luggage when I noticed a man and a woman with a pushcart jam-packed with luggage. Suddenly he stopped, spun around, and started yelling at her. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but just the look on his face frightened me. Sometimes the expression on your face, let alone the full impact of your words, can frighten your wife.

Denying honest emotions isn't healthy, but neither is making a habit of "throwing up" the negative ones just so you'll feel better. It's not trite to say that when you're angry or frustrated, talk to God. If you don't learn to manage these toxic emotions in a healthy way, I promise that one of three things will occur: your wife will respond by fighting, fleeing, were freezing. All three are bad options.

If you have conflict in your marriage, work through it. Talk to God about it. Then talk to your wife. Forget if you need to. Confess if you need to. Let go of your resentments. Harboring resentments may offer an immediate sense of gratification or power, but resentments fester until they control you. The way to restore harmony in your marriage is to remove resentments, not relive them. No marriage is capable of recovering from disappointments and moving on to maturity unless both husband and wife let go of bitterness.  You can't trust and love your wife while you were either secretly were openly resentful of her.

Letting go of the grudges, the bitterness, the resentment, the anger is something we do for ourselves as well as for our partner. Anger darkens our own hearts. And when we are in darkness, we cannot live in the light. God must be the source of that letting go - that forgiveness - as we draw from the well he supplies. God wants us to love as we have been loved, to comfort as we have been comforted, and to forgive as we have been forgiven (1 John 4:11, 2 Corinthians 1:4, Ephesians 4:32).

Part Six:  "Safeguard Your Relationships"

(Editor's Note:  Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg are America's Family Coaches!  As such, their ministry includes a powerful and yet practical approach to building your family and marriage.  I first heard Gary speak at a Promise Keeper's event.  To this day, his message of "guarding your heart" and "staying focused on your family" has impacted my life.  Both Gary and Barbara are gifted and powerful speakers.  Please take a moment to consider how your marriage can benefit from their ministry, whether through visiting their website, purchasing one of their best-selling books, listing to their popular radio program, or attending a life-changing seminar.  You can also reach them toll-free by dialing 1-888-ROSBERG.) 




(c) 2003 Caton Development, Inc.

marriage intimacy