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by Joe Beam
God Himself placed the desire for intimacy within each one of us. He made us with two powerful carvings that permeate or motivate nearly everything we do:
Understanding those two undergirding drives within human nature gives great insight into many of our actions, both logical and illogical, holy and sinful. They explain a lot about why we do what we do. Sound simple? Maybe it should be, but it gets complicated because of the differences in men and women.
One thing we at Family Dynamics Institute have discovered is that while both men and women need the same kind of intimacy, their approaches to trying to fulfill that need arent always the same. Though we refuse to stereotype, we have noted in our work with thousands of men and women that there are some general characteristics that tend to be repeated within genders.
For example, we have learned that men tend to focus more on the actions of intimacy while women tend to focus more on the feelings of intimacy. Not every man. Not every woman. But enough of each that many people find themselves unfulfilled in their search for intimacy, even though they are married to a person driven by the same craving.
Many men think that being intimate with their wives means having sex with them. If one man describes the night before with his wife as being intimate, most other men would think he was saying they made sexual love. Even when you remove sex from the equation, a man is still more likely to think that intimacy with his wife is doing something for her, like building her a gazebo in the backyard or bringing her breakfast in bed. For many, if not most, men, intimacy is something you do.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to view intimacy as a feeling of closeness that may not be associated with any action at all. She wants conversation, sharing, warmth, and affection. She can feel those things just sitting on the sofa with him, daydreaming. He, on he other hand, is much more likely to want romantic encounters, uninhibited passion, or a saucy, seductive telephone call in the middle of his workday.
Who is right? What is intimacy? Is it an action or a feeling?
In reality, both actions and feelings play a crucial role in real intimuicy. In a sense, its like faith in James 2. It exists in the heart (feeling), hut the only way it proves its existence is by what it does (action). The actions arent intimacy; they are merely vital signs that prove that intimacy is alive. You can no more replace intimacy with actions than you can replace faith with works.
But intimacy isnt just feelings either. A claimed faith that never demonstrates itself isnt faith at all. In the same way, a proclaimed intimacy that doesnt express itself in actions isnt intimacy.
True intimacy means more than having an active sex life, and it means more than warm, romantic feelings for a knight in shining armor. It means investing time and effort into satisfying the deepest longings of each other. It means making a safe place to share the secret parts of yourselves your hopes, your dreams, your fears. It means sharing in a physical union that is open and free, ranging from touching to sexual fulfillment. It means having fun with each other. It means growing together spiritually and in your own personal relationship with God. Isnt that what you really want? I know I do.
Author: Joe Beam
Publication Date: January 25, 2002
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