The year was 1997, and the popular NBC sitcom “Seinfeld” released an episode called “The Yada Yada.” In that episode, George Costanza laments about his girlfriend’s use of the phrase “yada, yada, yada” to shorten her stories and leave out critical facts.
While I’m not endorsing “Seinfeld,” it is fascinating to recognize how the show’s use of the phrase “yada, yada, yada” has actually defined our cultural understanding of the word yada, and turned it into a cliché. The phrase “yada, yada, yada” is now used as a disparaging response in conversation, indicating that something was predictable, repetitive or boring. It’s the equivalent of sarcastically rolling your eyes and saying, “blah, blah, blah.”
However, the Bible intended to communicate something very different through the Hebrew word yada. In the Scriptures, yada means “to know,” which can refer to sexual intercourse. For example, Genesis 4:1 says, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.” In other words, the Bible never meant for yada to mean boring or predictable — it’s talking about the beautiful gift of sex between a husband and wife. The word yada (to know) is a powerful image clarifying that sex doesn’t just involve the body, but the heart and mind as well.
With that understanding of the word yada, how can we use the phrase “yada, yada, yada” to strengthen sexual intimacy with our spouse? Let’s explore three different ways yada is used throughout the Scriptures.
Know your spouse. The metaphor of sex as knowing is an important aspect of the term yada. It implies discovery, actively pursuing knowledge about your spouse. First Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way.” Here, husbands are instructed to dwell with their wives according to knowledge. This type of knowing happens when we take on an attitude of curiosity and ask questions to better understand our spouse’s emotions, fears, hopes, dreams, concerns, likes, dislikes, etc.
I believe that one of the deepest human needs is to be known by our spouse — to experience intimacy. In slowing down the pronunciation of the word intimacy, we get something similar to “into me see.” And that’s where yada comes into the picture. Curiosity can create an emotional connection that’s often a prerequisite for a woman to connect sexually with her husband. It’s that understanding that often motivates me to tell young husbands, “Win your wife’s heart to win her body.”
Be known by your spouse. Yada also means to make yourself known. In Proverbs 31:23, King Solomon is using yada to say that the woman’s husband is well known — people know and respect him. He writes, “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” It’s great to pursue knowledge about your spouse, but you also need to actively reveal who you are on the inside. This is about being real and authentic. The best sex requires vulnerability, to be naked and unashamed. This is exactly how God originally designed sex between Adam and Eve in the garden — to involve both physical and emotional nakedness. However, for numerous couples, this level of openness can be intimidating. Many people today need to understand that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness; it’s actually a strength. It’s about letting your guard down and allowing your spouse to know your inner world — the real you.
This concept of being known is similar to the idea behind a two-part greeting shared by the African Zulu tribe. When tribesmen encounter one another, they stand facing each other, look deep into each other’s eyes and then one person says, sikhona (which means “I am here to be seen”), and the other person answers with, sawubona (which means “I see you”). Similarly, the best sex happens in marriage when a spouse reveals his or her inner world and in response feels fully embraced by his or her mate. This level of vulnerability and acceptance can help you to experience the deepest and most profound intimacy as husband and wife.
In spite of the benefits, I have to admit that this type of openness is difficult for me because I often don’t know exactly how to be open and vulnerable with my wife, Erin. So to help in this area, I have found one of the easiest ways to “prime the pump” is to play the high-low game together. Erin and I will take turns asking each other, “What was the high (best part) of your day and what was the low (worst part) of your day?” It may sound simple, but it definitely helps to inspire connectedness between us.
Be sexual with your spouse. An equally important part of yada is the act of sex — lovemaking! This is all about our bodies connecting sexually in ways that feel great to both people.
God gave us the gift of sex for several reasons, including physical enjoyment. The very fact that He created our bodies with thousands of nerve endings designed specifically to generate great pleasure is evidence that He intended sex for our delight. God even gave us an entire book in the Bible that celebrates sex between a husband and wife. In Song of Solomon 1:2 (NIV) we read, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth — for your love is more delightful than wine.” Here the word love can be translated as “your lovemaking.“
We need to celebrate and delight in the act of sex with our spouse. Certainly it can bond us emotionally, but sometimes we need to physically connect before we can emotionally connect. I often tell young wives, “Win your husband’s body to win his heart.” Emotional connection is intensified when you physically know your spouse. Talk to each other about how often you’d like to have sex, your favorite foreplay activity and most enjoyable sex position, your biggest sexual turn-on, what gives you the most sexual pleasure and how your sex life might be bettered. This kind of vulnerable conversation has the potential to enhance your yada.
God’s idea of yada in marriage is for you to know your spouse completely, for you to be deeply known by your spouse and for both of you to enjoy each other sexually. So guard that part of your relationship; protect it so it doesn’t turn into “blah, blah, blah.”
Don’t let a 90s television sitcom, or anything else for that matter, hijack your “yada, yada, yada” and turn it into something other than what God intended.
Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family and the author or co-author of several books, including Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.