People often confuse intimacy with sex. The word intimacy has become synonymous with sexual intercourse. A husband and wife joining in that most physically intimate experience are vital to a healthy relationship. But sex doesn’t make a marriage work.
So, can you have intimacy without sex? Fortunately, there are many ways to show love and affection to your partner. And there are many ways to be intimate with your partner. But first, let’s break down what the Christian man should know about intimacy.
Understanding Intimacy for Christian Men
God longs to have a deep, intimate relationship with people. He also calls Christians to have and develop an intimate relationship with Him.
Jesus Himself, during His earthly ministry, spent time breaking bread with His Disciples, teaching them about the Kingdom of God. But He also stayed at the house of Mary, her sister Martha, and their brother Lazarus quite often when He was near Jerusalem. He doubtlessly shared meals with them and also taught them about the Kingdom, as He did with His disciples.
And John 11:3 specifically points out that Lazarus was a friend, one whom Jesus “loved.” This love, as defined in Greek, is “philia” or “phileo” love, one between brothers or close friends, and is the “highest form of love.” Even Lazarus’ death brought Jesus to tears (John 11:35), though Jesus knew He would bring him back to life. This intimate relationship with three siblings was unique among others in the Bible.
So, how does all this translate to intimacy for Christian men? Jesus showed a spiritual and emotional intimacy with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Thus, intimacy hasn’t been – and isn’t – synonymous with sex. When you share intimacy with your spouse, it can be much more profound – and arguably more satisfying – than just involving sex.
Key Factors of Intimacy
When a couple is genuinely intimate, they build and maintain positive qualities that permeate their relationship.
Acts of intimacy include:
- Presence. Simply being with your partner strengthens your relationship. But it doesn’t involve merely being “there” with your partner. It consists of being emotionally and mentally “there,” even in everyday moments, to let your partner know that you love and care about them.
- Acceptance. When you and your partner accept each other, despite any faults and mistakes, you each can be strong for the other in your respective areas of weakness.
- Compassion. In Latin, compassion means “co-suffering.” Compassion is Biblical because it involves “shar[ing] one another burdens, [so as to] fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Though the Apostle Paul’s admonition to be compassionate is essential for Christians in general, it’s crucial in a loving Christian marriage.
- Trust. This product of intimacy carries over into many other aspects of a relationship. When husbands and wives let their guards down and are vulnerable to each other, it strengthens their marital bonds.
- Safety. Building off trust, you can give your partner a feeling of safety and security and the knowledge that you’ll be there for them when times are wonderful and when they’re the most difficult.
- Honesty. Honesty is a factor and a by-product of feeling safe with your partner. Communication barriers can come down, and each of you can be entirely and thoroughly honest with the other.
- Gratitude. Intimacy also leads to being grateful for the other. Having someone you can share your whole life with lends itself to an overall feeling of being thankful to that partner – and to God – for making your life fuller and sweeter.
Can You Have Intimacy Without Sex?
So, can you have intimacy without sex? The answer is a resounding yes! The Apostle Paul encouraged the Church in Philippi to be “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:2). But this encouragement isn’t limited to people in the Church. A husband and wife must embody this as a part of a fulfilling marriage.
Types of intimacy that don’t involve sex include:
- Spiritual Intimacy. “Be[ing] one flesh,” as described in Genesis 2:24, includes a spiritual element. While all Christians need to be united, this unity also extends to husbands and wives. Prayer, worship, and reading the Scriptures together means living and being in Christ together and fulfills this type of intimacy.
- Emotional Intimacy. Sharing your feelings – the good and the bad – with your partner is not only crucial to building and maintaining intimacy in your relationship but also Biblical. The Apostle Paul’s instruction to bear one another’s burdens applies not only to Christians as a whole but to a husband and wife together.
- Intellectual Intimacy. This crucial element of a relationship requires being comfortable enough to communicate your beliefs and viewpoints about life and each other. Though no husband and wife are identical in every aspect of their lives, to be truly intimate, they must be able to share their thoughts.
- Experiential/Recreational Intimacy. Sharing experiences, the moving and the mundane and everything in between, is another way to be and grow more intimate. When was the last time you and your partner did something exciting, like riding roller coasters together? Or enjoyed something more uneventful, like sharing coffee and conversation while watching a sunrise? These shared moments are simple, powerful ways to build intimacy.
- Physical Intimacy. This type of intimacy doesn’t limit itself strictly to sexual activity, as important as that is for a healthy relationship. Acts of physical intimacy can include holding your partner’s hand, putting your arm around your partner, and even cuddling. That feeling of being physically close to your partner strengthens your overall intimacy.
How Boulder Recovery Can Help
Sadly, not every couple shares all these forms of intimacy. Often, the effects of childhood and adolescent trauma can get in the way of – or even negate – intimacy between a husband and wife.
But Boulder Recovery can help you and your partner restore and strengthen intimacy in your relationship. We specialize in intimacy disorders, including sex addiction, pornography addiction, and attachment wounding. We use a Bible-based and neurobiological approach to understanding and healing called the Trauma Induced Sexual Addiction model.
Our 14-Day Men’s Intensive helps Christian men identify and address intimacy disorders and sexual addictions by working through unresolved trauma. The intensive helps men process their issues to return to healthy, God-centered relationships with their wives.
Boulder Recovery also offers help for wives, since these issues involve them, too. As part of our Partner Support Program, we allow for 10 hours of virtual counseling support for wives – facilitated by a certified betrayal trauma counselor.
Help restore intimacy in your relationship by reaching out to Boulder Recovery for more information. We’re here to help you return to the intimacy God intended for you and your partner.