Last time we talked about the definition of real intimacy and related it to the sexual realm of our marriages. Today, I want to talk more about the emotional side intimacy, and it's that emotional side where our wives often reside.
I believe the best definition for intimacy that I've heard is "the freedom from anxiety in the presence of vulnerability." Sexually, I think that definition makes perfect sense; it's obvious, I don't need to think to hard about it. And I think that's because a lot of men find this intimacy in the bedroom. If you validate me as a real man there, I'll be more likely to feel like one everywhere.
However our wives tend to feel a little different than that. And by "a little different" I mean, the complete opposite. If you validate her as a woman outside the bedroom, she will be closer to you inside the bedroom.
Our wives—if you haven't already figured out—are relationship driven. In fact, if you are a Christian, you already believe that woman was designed specifically to be a relational being. This is why fights between friends and lovers cut so much deeper for her than for you. This is why she is much more perceptive in her relationships that you often are.
A woman finds intimacy within the context of her relationships. She feels closer and closer to those she can share her heart's deepest secrets because the anxiety of wondering what they'll do or think of her has faded. There is no fear of her being condemned for feeling the way she feels, and since her feelings have been validated by another, the intimacy between her and that other person grows.
So how is your intimacy level with your wife? Does she truly feel free from anxiety when she makes her heart vulnerable to you? Do you listen to her when she is expressing her thoughts and feelings to you? Do you help her get rid of her anxieties about the way she looks by constantly telling her she's beautiful every time you think it? For a woman, intimacy grows within the emotional context of a relationship. Can she feel completely safe entrusting you with her emotions? If the answer is yes, you understand the powerful bond of intimacy in marriage. You understand the powerful connection that validating her as a woman has to her validating you as a man.
If your answer was no, however, what is it that you need to change? How do you handle your wife's moments of vulnerability? Do you show her that she only gets hurt when she opens up to you? Is she nervous to reveal her soul because she never knows how you will act?
Let's evaluate the levels of intimacy in our marriages. What needs to change? What can we do to ensure our wives feel free from anxiety in the presence of vulnerability?