Welcome back to #MarriageMonday! Today we are digging into some practical ways to deepen intimacy and improve connection in your marriage. This is an edited excerpt from a section of No More Perfect Marriages. Grab a copy to dig deeper!
Jill: True intimacy involves both knowing and being known in all our imperfection.
Mark: The intimacy we’re referring to here is emotional connectedness.
Jill: Deepening intimacy takes intention, often just in the little things, but it’s easy to lose that as time goes on, our family expands, and our schedule gets busier. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Mark: When I was growing up, I lived within a mile of the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway racetrack. I loved the race and would go to the practices, the qualifications, and often the race. One year a race fan jumped onto the racetrack and ran around the track naked until he was escorted away by security. It was quite unexpected! It’s possible you’re feeling we’re kicking this article off by suggesting you need to strip down and run naked around the track of your marriage (I mean, you can, but it’s not necessary ?), but today we want to talk about something deeper.
Jill: Emotional nakedness makes physical nakedness so much better, and we want both for every married couple, but we’ve learned it’s better off to start building your vulnerability muscle in small ways.
Mark: Today we want to share some ideas on how you can deepen the intimacy in your marriage. Don’t feel like you have to do them all! Pick two or three of these practical steps to start connecting in a deeper way. Here are some practical steps:
Share your day. Not just what happened but how you feel about what happened. Ask your spouse about their day and how he or she feels about it.
Open your eyes during lovemaking. Open your eyes and really look into the eyes of your loved one. It may feel awkward, but don’t go backward! Keep moving forward. As you push through awkward, you’ll create that new normal!
Resist the urge to move quickly through uncomfortable feelings. Learn to sit with pain. Feel, don’t rush to fix. Respond to yourself and your spouse with empathetic statements like, “I’m so sorry,” or “That must have been very painful.”
Prepare your spouse to listen. Start your sharing with, “I’m learning how to flex my vulnerability muscle, so I’m going to share something with you that scares me.” Or, “I’m going to share my feelings about this and I just need you to listen, not to offer ideas for fixing it.” This helps your spouse know you’re stepping into unfamiliar territory.
Ask for help. Stop playing the martyr and make your needs known. Do this using assertive requests rather than passive-aggressive hints. Even if your spouse doesn’t respond with help, you are still learning how to be comfortable in the vulnerability zone of having needs.
Resist the urge to reveal information in layers. This is a common pattern when “confessing” something your spouse deserves to know. However, it lengthens the healing process and makes building trust even harder. Instead, be completely honest with whatever you need to share. Resist the urge to share 50 percent now and more information later.
See your spouse. Really see him or her. Look beyond the words and notice how he or she really seems to be doing. Embrace the concept of “shared humanity.” Resist the feelings of embarrassment and remind yourself that you’re both learning how to navigate the human experience.
Move from thinking you’re “independent” to embracing the fact that you’re “interdependent.” When you said, “I do,” you linked arms with another human being.
Stop stonewalling. When we stonewall, we shut down or distance ourselves rather than ask for what we need. This moves us away from instead of toward one another.
Tackle the lies of shame and insecurity. These rob you of being confident in sharing the real you. Rejection is real but often it is also perceived when we look at relationships through the lens of shame and insecurity. If necessary, make an appointment with a Christian counselor to dig into this.
Jill: Those are some practical next steps! So we’re curious: Which of those do you need to try this week? Don’t try them all. Pick 2 or 3 to really focus in on. You’ll be surprised at how the little things add up to really deepen both the intimacy and connection in your marriage.
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