“…It is not good for the man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18)
Jill: Did you know that God created you for sex, intimacy, and connection? It was His idea! Did you know that He finds it beautiful and pleasing that a married man and woman would experience this ultimate level of intimacy? Do you know that God designed us to enjoy our sexuality and be comfortable with our nakedness within the marriage relationship?
Mark: God knew it was not good for us to be alone and that it was good for us to be in relationships – friendship with God, relationship with those around us, and a deeply intimate relationship with our spouse. He designed marriage to be the closest human relationship we would experience on earth.
Jill: But what does it mean to experience intimacy? It’s more than just having sex. When Mark and I first started dating, we would spend hours talking about everything under the sun – our disappointments, our struggles, and even our fears. You might say that we shared an emotional “nakedness” with one another.
Mark: One of the easiest definitions we’ve ever come across to explain what it means to be intimate is the phrase “into me see.” Intimacy allows us to “see” into the life of another. When a husband and wife experience the sometimes difficult moments of honesty and vulnerability, they build trust and deepen intimacy. Intimacy begins with a nonsexual relationship, but it is the act of sharing our deepest thoughts, struggles, and dreams that brings us one step closer to physical nakedness.
Jill: If you’ve been married for any length of time, you know how important intimacy can be before you even get to the bedroom. When it’s there, sparks can fly and you can feel closer to your spouse than ever before! When it is missing, sex can feel methodical, robotic, or even fully absent in your marriage. What happens (or doesn’t happen) inside the bedroom is a direct reflection of what happens outside the bedroom.
Mark: If we want to improve the sexual relationship of our marriage, then we have to first look to improve our emotional relationship. When we take the time to know our spouse through the nakedness of our emotions, then the desire to know one another in the nakedness of our bodies will progress naturally!
Jill: We know all too well how much everyday life can get in the way of knowing your spouse on an emotional level. If you’ve got little ones in the house, the constant pile of diapers, dishes, coordinating schedules, and more can thwart your efforts to find emotional oneness.
Mark: We’ve experienced seasons where making the time to build emotional intimacy was one of the last things on our minds and our relationship suffered as a result. That’s why we’ve come up with a few ideas to help build up intimacy, even in the midst of busy lives. Here are several intimacy builders to help you communicate, connect emotionally, and make your marriage a priority.
Looking for more? Grab a copy of Is There Really Sex After Kids? —
#1: Kitchen Time
Jill: Let me know if this sounds familiar. You or your husband arrives home from work and after a quick hello gets bombarded with questions from the children and showing off their latest school project. As a couple, your time around dinner and bedtime routines can be primarily focused on the children and consists of very little communication.
Mark: We found that when we didn’t make an intentional plan to connect in the evenings, it wouldn’t happen. That’s when we created “kitchen time.” Kitchen Time is an intentional plan to set aside time to talk with your spouse. This time can be used to talk through your expectations for the evening, reconnect, share your thoughts, and strategize schedules.
Jill: This can be done right as you get home from work or it could be done right after dinner each evening. The important part is not when it occurs, but that it occurs. Kitchen time in the Savage household took place each weekday when Mark came home from work. He joined me at the kitchen island for about 15 minutes for us to chat and most importantly answer the question, “What do you need tonight?” This builds intimacy on a daily basis, increases communication, and most importantly sets the stage for a vibrant love life.
#2: Three-Question Technique
Mark: How often do you listen to your spouse? I mean, really listen to them. We have a tendency to listen to what our spouse is saying, but only to turn the conversation to your agenda or to make a reply.
Jill: We borrowed this three-question technique based on Bobbie and Myron Yagel’s 15 Minutes to Build a Stronger Marriage. The idea is that you practice intentional listening by asking three questions before you say “I” or change the conversation.
Mark: When we practice this technique, we’ll find that conversations go much deeper, we draw more of each other out in the conversation, and the other person feels truly heard.
Your Next Step: Get Done-For-You Dates in Our Date Night Community!
Jill: If you spend any length of time apart from your spouse or especially if your spouse travels for work, then I don’t have to explain to you how vital reconnection time can be! Reconnection is simply strategically planning a time to connect emotionally after being apart for a time – whether that time apart is a day or weeks at a time.
Mark: This reconnection time could look like a date night out, an intentional time in to debrief on what happened while you were apart, or even utilizing the three-question technique to cultivate deep conversation. The point is that you don’t just jump back into your normal schedule but take time to get back on the same page after time apart.
#4: Date Nights
Jill: When couples first meet, all our time is spent together on dates and getting to know one another. Once we get married, many couples stop going on dates. But dates are not just for those hoping to get married! Married couples need to continue dating in order to keep their relationship a priority.
Mark: We’ve found that it’s helpful to have daily dates, weekly or biweekly dates, and then annual dates to help us build intimacy. Here’s a quick definition of each one and how they are beneficial to our marriage:
- Daily Dates – These are little acts of love and appreciation we show each other every day. It could be as simple as a hug in the morning, a note left in your spouse’s lunch, or a phone call in the middle of the day. Daily dates are small reminders that are essential to a healthy marriage.
- Weekly or Biweekly Dates – These are planned outings without children. Just like the dates before we were married, these dates are planned, purposeful times spent together. Usually consisting of several hours alone, weekly or biweekly outings help us to focus on each other without the distraction of being a hands-on parent at the same time.
- Annual Dates – Annual dates are the getaways every marriage needs. These overnights are designed to keep the romance in the relationship. We find that these are the times that help us remember who we are as a couple—not as mom and dad. They also help us recall the very things that attracted us to one another in the first place. Getaways instill a sense of fun and spontaneity in a marriage relationship. They also go a long way in building intimacy for a long-lasting relationship.
Jill: We have found all three of these dates have been vital to building intimacy in our marriage and connection with one another. We’ve even created a Date Night community with dozens of done-for-you date ideas to help keep connection alive in your marriage!
Mark: When it comes to our marriage, the default can be to let it run on autopilot. If we let our marriages stay there, we’ll find that the intimacy dwindles and before long we’ll wake up next to our spouse 20 years later wondering how we drifted so far apart.
Jill: We hope you’ll take these intimacy builders and start incorporating them into your marriage. As you do, our prayer is that you will find you are building a firm, marriage-centered foundation for your family as well as deeper sexual intimacy. Making the marital relationship a priority and investing time and energy into your nonsexual relationship will make a world of difference in your love life.
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