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Our God-Given Craving for IntimacyOur God-Given Craving for Intimacy
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:

  1. Every human craves intimacy with another human.

  2. Every human craves intimacy with God.

    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 aren’t 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.

What is intimacy? Is it an action or a feeling?
    Let’s illustrate further. A man like I’m describing would complete a rather energetic lovemaking session with his wife by falling into a contented sleep, having experienced intimacy as he defines it. If his wife is like women I’m describing, sleep may not come so easily for her. Suppose they had drifted apart emotionally, even in dimensions small the husband may not have noticed. In a situation like that, she may lie there for hours after their lovemaking, wondering where the marriage is failing, before finally escaping into a restless sleep filled with wishes for some magical rekindling of their relationship. An act of intimacy had taken place, satisfying him, but the feeling of intimacy didn’t exist for her. He thought they had both experienced intimacy; she felt that neither of them did.

    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, it’s 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 aren’t 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 isn’t just feelings either. A claimed faith that never demonstrates itself isn’t faith at all. In the same way, a proclaimed intimacy that doesn’t express itself in actions isn’t 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. Isn’t that what you really want? I know I do.

      By Joe Beam, Chairman and Founder, Family Dynamics Institute. From his book, "Becoming One" © 1999, Howard Publishing Company. Used by permission. This article cannot be reprinted in another publication without written permission of the publisher. Click here to buy this title online!

      Title: "Our God-Given Craving for Intimacy"
      Author: Joe Beam
      Publication Date: January 25, 2002

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Joe Beam is an internationally known speaker and the author of several books. He is founder of the Family Dynamics Institute.


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