Traveling Toward Marital Intimacy

By Paul Coughlin
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Focus on the Family
Though there is overlap, husbands and wives tend to take two unique paths toward intimacy. It's important to understand where they lead and that sometimes we may have to force ourselves onto them.

Accountability to another person about your visual and emotional infidelity can be helpful—but not as helpful as we like to believe. After a while, one husband told me, “It’s pretty easy to lie to the person who is questioning you. It’s so autonomous–how are they really going to know?‚”

Putting computers out in the open is helpful as well in order to break the power of autonomy. But what happens when no one is around to see you on that website or watching that soap opera? There is a more lasting approach: Addressing the reasons why a husband or wife would turn to someone other than their spouse when desiring sexual and emotional intimacy, then creating a realistic level of intimacy within your existing marriage.

As mentioned previously, virtual infidelity increases when we are lonely, in duress, angry or spurned. These are threshold experiences, portals toward infidelity but also intimacy since conflict can sometimes be intimacy in disguise.

Two Paths Toward Intimacy

Though there is overlap, husbands and wives tend to take two unique paths toward intimacy. It’s important to understand where they lead and that sometimes we may have to force ourselves onto them in order to create a stronger and co-mingled path toward intimacy.

Generally speaking, women prefer talking and thinking together as men prefer touching and other forms of physical togetherness. I was unaware of these distinctions for the first 15 years of my marriage and this ignorance lead to unnecessary heartache. When my wife would desire to sit down and talk and think with me about everyday matters, I did not understand just how important these activities were to her. I treated them like items on a To Do List—check them off and be done with them. I did not understand that like foreplay, she enjoyed talking and thinking together with leisure and creativity. I have since learned to force myself to slow down and to be a better listener, knowing that she finds pleasure in these experiences and her pleasure is important to me. Now I find pleasure in these activities as well, but they still are not my primary paths toward intimacy. I’m still, after all, a guy.

Likewise, some wives may at first have to force themselves to move in the direction of their husband’s path toward intimacy. This is not to say that wives do not enjoy touching and other forms of physical togetherness. It’s just that for some it isn’t their primary form of expression. So for some wives, this could mean going on more walks together or taking up an activity that requires touching, like dancing. It may mean making sex more creative and frequent than before.

Christians More Passive

No discussion about the intersection between sexual and emotional fidelity and contemporary Christianity is complete without addressing pervasive passivity. Studies show that people who attend church have a more passive personality than the population in general (one study has the discrepancy at 60% to 85%). Passivity is sometimes a manifestation of cowardice, which is a sin (Revelation 21:8).

Passive people are more prone toward addiction. And this is particularly damaging when it comes to virtual infidelity, an ideal hiding place for the passive personality. Here passive people have their needs placated but never truly met; sexual arousal and emotional titillation, but never tenderness, adoration, and a soulful repose. Here the passive do not have to undergo the challenging duty of standing their ground and stating plainly what they desire as normal human beings. Passive personalities prefer that their spouse guess as to what they really want, which is unfair, confusing and fertile soil for inevitable resentment. And most passive spouses behave this way because they are fearful. There is a great acronym for fear that is helpful when understanding this side of virtual infidelity: False Evidence Appearing Real. Many times, though we might feel very uncomfortable at first, the fact remains that many of our fears are unfounded. Many spouses are willing to at least try to help the person they love to have their needs met in their marriage.

Honest, Frank Explanations

So for some husbands, an honest and frank explanation of just how important sexual intercourse is to them is in order. Wives are not born with this knowledge and our culture rarely reveals it, so they need husbands to tell them how difficult it is for them to keep their thought-life pure without their wives’ help. Likewise for wives, an honest and frank explanation of emotional connection may be in order, and probably has been for a while. Both genders need help understanding each other’s inner regions, which are both similar and unique, and they need to express these truths without anger, sarcasm or contempt (eye-rolling is the most common expression of contempt). During such times, putting your thoughts on paper beforehand helps to keep them straight in our minds. It is the foolish spouse who does not heed and honor such a tender and powerful revelation of the soul.

Being sexual and emotional are normal, healthy and right in marriage. There is no good reason to apologize for either desire since both come from the good hand of God. Having both needs met in a realistic fashion is among the main reasons we marry in the first place. These facts help to give us the courage we need to talk about them without whimpering or yelling.

And finally, a word of warning for all of us who live in our hyper-sexualized age: Erotic and highly emotional experiences are not meant to be consumed with great regularity. Like all things deep and sacred, they are not designed to be on tap 24/7. They are powerful, too powerful it seems, for the human soul to regularly absorb, very much like radiation, which also possessed a mysterious capacity to heal and curse. These facts help to put our good desires in perspective during our age of virtual infidelity.

 

Put the Pieces of Your Marriage Back Together

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

Get Started>>


Copyright © 2009, Paul Coughlin. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Paul Coughlin

Paul Coughlin is an author, an international speaker and the founder and president of The Protectors, which is dedicated to helping schools, organizations and communities combat bullying. His books include No More Christian Nice Guy, Raising Bully-Proof Kids and 5 Secrets Great Dads Know. Paul and his wife, Sandy, reside in southern Oregon and have three teenage children. Learn more …

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.