Emotional Intimacy in Marriage

Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me. Song of Solomon 2:5-6

Emotional intimacy expresses itself in the formation of a personal bond and attachment. This connection intensifies as couples submit to each other’s emotional needs through intimate communication without any form of reservation or apprehension. This is not just a quick, jump in and out kind of intimacy; it is well thought out and cannot generally be faked. Emotional intimacy develops over time as couples increase in their level of trust for each other. It takes over those who are consumed in it and fosters high level of dependence and reliance on each other. Emotional intimacy at this depth should be wholly experienced between people who have been joined by covenant to remain as one flesh till death separates.

There cannot be emotional intimacy without naked personalities. According to C. S. Lewis “Eros will have naked bodies; friendship naked personalities.” Friendship is at the highest level of a relationship, if you are both friends, you will not struggle with developing emotional intimacy. Without emotional satisfaction women become sex providers, they are only involved with sex because they want to pay their marital dues to their husband. Such women are often disconnected and dispassionate about sex and only want their husband to do “what he wants to do” and leave them alone.

We should be very careful how we deal with the emotion of our spouses. The emotional state of our spouses determines the atmosphere in the home. When we have negative emotions, everything in the home seems to become or tend towards negative. In the same way when couples are emotionally happy, when the emotions are positive, there is energy, optimism and joy in the home. Both the man and woman will gain if they are emotionally wise and endeavour to make each other happy. Emotionally wise or intelligent couples will stay away from actions or words that will sow negative feelings in each other. Shouting our spouses down in arguments or attacking their character will only lead to the development of an emotional gulf between couples. Remember when people are attacked, they respond by fight or flight. In marriage this may be seen in the creation of walls between couples or tensions and contentions in the home. We should be wise and not sow the feelings we are not interested in reaping.

Don’t be deceived

Almost every soul seeks to be emotionally satisfied even if they fail to accept it. Many will be quick to say this is a feminine need but that is not the whole truth. Men also have emotional needs and it is for the best interest of the couples to seek to meet the emotional needs of each other. Sometimes I actually think men are so desperate to be emotionally satisfied that they think masking it with sex will do. It doesn’t take long for most men to find out that there is still something they are looking for outside of sex. Contrary to the general opinion that women are quick to seek emotional support outside the home, many a man are arguably quicker to look for someone who listens to them and pamper them in a way that they desire. Whether male or female, we are made by God to need and to respond to emotional engagements. The need for emotional intimacy is very intense in women; it is as intense as the need for sexual gratification is for men. It does not replace the need for sex but makes sex a lot more rewarding and spontaneous. Most men would gladly pursue physical or sexual intimacy without considering the fact that there can never be a rewarding or sweet sexual response from a woman who has been emotionally deprived. 

Do not trivialise the emotional need of your spouse. 

It is very easily done but very dangerous to trivialise the inner concerns of our spouses. Both husbands and wives are guilty of this. You don’t have the capacity to always judge how important a matter is to your spouse. We should be careful not to jump to selfish conclusions or arrogant assumptions. I have discovered that most spouses don’t really want to hurt each other’s feelings. The problem is that many people struggle to manage their spouse’s concerns effectively.  It is very wrong to think “it doesn’t matter” if it matters to your spouse. It might not matter to you but it may mean all the world to your spouse. We should respect the opinions of our spouses even when we do not share their perspective. Couples may not have similar opinions at all times, what is important is that we respect and value each other’s perception of circumstances. It is very painful when your spouse just doesn’t FEEL the weight of your concerns. If we must be intimate, we should be careful not to do things that promote resentment in our spouse.

Let us endeavour to keep the fire burning

Many people talk about “tender loving care” but only few people really bring this alive in their marriages. We cannot expect the fire of passion to continue to burn if we are not ready to fan it into flames. We need to speak the words, we need to make the gestures and we need to give everything we have to our spouse as we let them know that we are not just interested in their bodies or their pockets or their fame or what they have to give but that we are really interested in their person. 

The attention to developing emotional intimacy helps to grow our love for each other. Love teaches to give all that we have but many people have given too much space for lust in their marriage. Lust only teaches one to take from others whatever one can get. Many married people unknowingly have become experts in drawing from their spouses but not thinking of giving back. If we can learn to meet the emotional need of our spouses, we shall not only become intimate, we shall also find ways of making them better people in life.

Do you still play with your spouse? Do you still yearn for their touch and embrace? We all need an emotional massage sometimes and I tell you the truth emotional intimacy will add more wine to your marriage than you can ever imagine. Let us come out of our shells and be genuine with our own spouses. Why should you be enraptured in a stranger’s love? 

Lekan Wellington Adegunwa