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According to Dictionary.com the word “Intimacy” has several definitions.
1. the state of being intimate. (I hate definitions like this, they tell you nothing!)
2. a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.
3. a close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject, period of history, etc.:
4. an act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like:
5. an amorously familiar act; liberty.
6. sexual intercourse.
7. the quality of being comfortable, warm, or familiar
If you notice, sex does not even come into play until the next to last definition. That kind of says something about what the role of intimacy should play in a marriage.
First, there should be a close and loving relationship with your spouse. If you don’t have that foundation, then nothing else in your marriage is really going to count for much. This kind of intimacy means getting to know each other; talking, listening, sharing stories and dreams. The best kind of marriages are the ones where spouses can cuddle up on the couch with nothing else going on, (tv, phones, computers) and just talk to each other for hours.
Then comes knowledge and understanding of your loved one. When I’ve had one of those truly horrendous, bad days my husband has often surprised me with flowers, because he knows I’ll light up at the sight of them. The even better part of this? The fact that half the time I never even tell him what a rotten day it was, he just knows it from the sound of my voice on the phone. That kind of deep understanding of your spouse that only comes after you’ve spent the time getting to know your spouse as well as you know yourself.
The next two definitions can often go hand in hand. An “expression of affection” can be anything from putting love notes in your husband’s lunch box to his calling you “Honey”. It’s just that little thing that might have even started out as a joke between the two of you, but has now become a little token of affection, and your marriage would somehow feel wrong without it. An “amorously familiar act” is talking about the simple touches like holding hands, kisses on the cheek or forehead, an embrace. Not necessarily sexual touches, just comforting cuddles that make you both feel safe and loved.
Then and only then do we get to sexual intercourse, and I don’t think that needs any explanation.
But, notice, we come back around again in our definitions to “the quality of being, comfortable, warm, or familiar”. Sex is not the beginning or the end of intimacy, it is just a step along the way. In the end, we always want to be comfortable with our spouse, feel warm in their arms, and know that everything feels familiar when we are with them because that person is our home that we can always return to. So, intimacy begins with cuddling and ends with cuddling. Sounds like a nice, cozy, warm spot to be.
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