I was intrigued by the results of the recent survey I conducted. My goal was to discover (among my readership) which marriage issues were the most interesting.
I think the results also gave me an idea of where the “points of pain” are for most couples. In other words, where they really see the need for growth.
The top three were…
- Conflict Resolution
- Date Night Ideas / Having Fun Together
As I thought about it, I realized that all three are essentially about intimacy.
- Sex (of course) is about physical intimacy
- Conflict resolution is about conversational (emotional) intimacy
- Date nights are about the intimacy of having fun together and simply enjoying each others presence and laughter. Let’s call it recreational intimacy.
The survey also illustrates the demand for intimacy. Despite everything the institution of marriage has been through the past 50 years, the fundamental yearning of the human heart has not changed. God has wired the human heart to need, yearn for, and demand oneness (intimacy) within the covenant of marriage.
Mike Mason in his book, “The Mystery of Marriage” puts it this way:
If there are more breakdowns and separations and divorces than ever before, it is largely because the demand for intimacy in marriage has never been so overwhelming.
He goes on to say…
It is quite clear that the fabric of individual lives is being eaten away from the inside by the hunger for intimacy and the failure to attain it.
And the hunger for intimacy and the failure to attain it will lead us to all sorts of dead ends (affairs, pornography, divorce, etc.). When we don’t experience (especially over a long period of time) what God designed us to experience – when we feel cheated and defrauded in our marriage – it will lead to deep levels of pain and despair.
But there is hope! God alone hardwired the demand for intimacy in our hearts, and He alone knows the best way to meet the demand.God alone hardwired the demand for intimacy in our hearts, and He alone knows the best way to meet the demand. Click To Tweet
True intimacy can only be experienced as our own selfish will dies and we embrace the fire of purification that is inevitably present in our union; and God uses it to expose and transform our selfishness, which is the greatest hindrance to experiencing true intimacy.
As Mason says…Human beings are the presence of God in the world, and by drawing so close to one of them that we enter willingly into the fire of his or her judgment, it becomes possible for our own selfish will to be illuminated and cauterized. Intimacy is thus a fire of righteous purification, a fire we could never tolerate were it not for the assurance that we are loved. Such assurance cannot be bought except at the price of the only thing we have to give, which is our faithfulness, the dedication of our whole hearts to another.
The fire of intimacy is an interesting thing. Sometimes it’s a warm glow that comforts our hearts and soothes our souls; and sometimes its the intense heat of righteous judgement that exposes our selfishness and purifies our hearts.
Don’t be surprised if the fire vacillates from day to day in your marriage, as it does mine. In my opinion, WHAT the fire of intimacy actually does IS the essence of the marriage journey.