Laughter is a doorway to intimacy—it’s like an instant vacation in a marriage and the best way to keep perspective when things go wrong. If a couple laughs together, they can cry together. Therefore, they will feel more ready to trust each other when communicating feelings. If a husband and wife can find humor in everything, they can survive anything. A couple shouldn’t take things so seriously. They must learn to stop when angry. And instead, use the love language of laughter.
A husband and wife must be each other’s cheerleaders, and they must learn how to encourage and support each other’s activities. Each spouse can listen and take an interest in the things their spouse likes to do. Similarly, they can express respect for each other. Every chance they get, they should compliment each other in public and in private. Both husbands and wives need to know they’re appreciated. A spouse who feels valued and encouraged is more likely to encourage the other in return.
One cannot underestimate the power of affection. A couple needs to develop a healthy habit of touching. Touch is connecting, holding hands, cuddling, stroking, and different ways of showing physical affection—but not necessarily sexual. Too frequently, couples do not touch each other, in public or ever. Affection is the basis on which a husband and wife can develop a healthy desire for each other, providing comfort. If a couple learns to be affectionate with their spouse, it creates a bond and security in their marriage.
One of the most significant barriers to growth in marriage is the absence of discussion. Couples must learn how to talk about their feelings and what is happening in their lives. Life is not perfect, and stressors will occur, so couples who acquire the ability to communicate their needs, wants, and goals have a greater connection. Set aside time daily to talk and discuss what happened and any challenges. Check in with each other—be curious, not furious.
No one should let resentments build up in their marriage. Spouses need to learn to forgive each other and themselves. Conflicts in marriage happen, and it’s essential for each partner to feel as if they can talk about their struggles and feelings. A husband must know how his wife thinks about issues that cause conflict; a wife must do likewise. If resentment is allowed to grow, the marriage will be challenging and lack connection. Work through resentments and find resolutions.
Intimacy in marriage must not only be developed but protected. Seeking intimacy online or through an emotional or physical affair is a betrayal at the deepest level—and it will never meet a real need. When a husband or wife looks at pornography or lusts after another person outside of their marriage, it destroys the intimacy in their marriage. By thinking about images or acting out with other people, they rob their spouse and themselves of true intimacy. When they find true intimacy with their spouse, they will lose their desire for substitutes and protect their relationship.
Want to cultivate a closer, more intimate marriage? Attend New Life’s Intimacy in Marriage workshop.
By Steve Arterburn and Kimberlee Bousman