6. A lack of romance and intimacy. Romance and intimacy with each other is simply the fruit of each of the previous truths. Obviously you won’t be very romantic with each other if you first aren’t friends who enjoy spending time together. Intimacy can not be achieved without effective communication and energetic conflict resolution. This depth of intimacy requires a spiritual relationship between two people who are not constantly battling over who is in charge.
Many couples ask if it is really that important to have romance and intimacy within their marriage. Some individuals have expressed to me that they believe that romance is really only essential for newlyweds. However, I believe that Scripture declares this concept to be fatally flawed and it places both partners in a very dangerous position. Why?
The best illustration of the power of romance and intimacy is to compare it to a spark plug in a car. A spark plug is a very small part of the overall working of an engine, but without it the car has no power. Likewise, if you compare the amount of time you spend in non-sexual touching, kissing and sexual intimacy itself, it is relatively a small part of your marriage.
However, these aspects of your relationship have a profound influence over every other area of your marriage. Romantic attraction is what drew you to your spouse, and it also has a real influence in holding you together. Solomon said of his wife:
“You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace. How fair is your love, my sister, my spouse” (Song 4:9-10).
The word ravished means to make the heart beat faster. Solomon was emotionally motivated and attracted toward his wife because of her love toward him. A real danger comes to a marriage when two people lose this intimacy. Without this romantic attraction you make yourself and your spouse vulnerable to the seduction and attraction of another. Solomon makes this quite clear as he warns his son concerning the necessity of having romance and intimacy with his own wife.
“Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.
As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son,
be enraptured by an immoral woman,
and be embraced in the arms of a seductress” (Prov. 5:18-20)
The word enraptured means to be intoxicated, which obviously refers to the romantic attraction between Solomon’s son and his wife. It is especially important to note the reason Solomon gives for this exhortation. Why must you remain intoxicated with your mate? Your attraction to your spouse will protect you from becoming intoxicated and drawn into an immoral relationship. This is why romance and intimacy is so important for your marriage. So, how can you grow in your intimacy and romance with each other?
(a.) Speak kindly to each other. You can’t be critical, sarcastic, and use cutting words with one another and expect to keep a sense of romance alive. Remember, “a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). Neither can you be silent and expect the fire of love to grow. Therefore, if you want a loving response, you must speak in a loving way. Notice how kindly Solomon and his wife spoke to one another (Song of S. 1:16; 4:1).
(b.) Set aside time alone to build this intimacy. Intimacy will never grow in a crowd. This is why couples tell me that after a long period of house guests or long hours at work, they sense a need to be alone with their mate. In the Song of Solomon, notice the intentional decisions made by both partners to spend time alone with each other (Song of S. 2:10-14; 7:11-12). This time alone was the seedbed for the growth of their romantic relationship. Be assured, you too can experience this kind of intimacy. Simply make it a priority to spend time alone with your spouse and intimacy will develop.
(c.) Non-sexual touching is also very important to romance. Intimacy and romantic love is not just having sex. Intimacy is a tender embrace, a reaching out for your spouse’s hand, putting your arm around one another as you sit on the couch, or a gentle kiss in the kitchen (Song of S. 2:6; 3:4; 1:2). Demonstrate to your mate in this manner that he or she is important to you.
(d.) On a regular basis choose to demonstrate your affection to your spouse by initiating sexual relations. So often couples come in for counseling and wonder why they are so distant from one another. One of the questions I usually ask is, “How often to you have sexual relations?” Many times the response is, “Very little.” Sometimes one partner is refusing sexual relations to punish or manipulate the other. This kind of behavior is sinful, dangerous, and counterproductive to resolving the real issues that divide a couple.
Therefore, if your romance and intimacy on a sexual level is at a low ebb or maybe even nonexistent, here are some issues to consider.
If you want affection and romance within your marriage, you must realize that your sexual relationship is very important to your marriage. God designed sexual relations in marriage for several very important reasons. Paul explained,
“Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her,
and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body,
but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time,
that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer;
and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you
because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor. 7:3-5).
Why did Paul command couples not to deprive each other? He gives three simple reasons. (1) The sexual relationship is the most intimate way two married individuals can express their affection for each other. By refusing sexual intimacy you are communicating that you have little affection toward your spouse.
In this atmosphere romance will only die. In addition, if you are forcing sexual relations upon your spouse, you are likewise revealing a lack of love and respect for your mate. Therefore, choose to demonstrate love by initiating or restraining your desires. Above all, talk about this issue and come to a mutual agreement as Scripture commands.
(2) Paul also teaches in this passage that both husband and wife gave up the right to their own body when they got married. Your responsibility is to meet the sexual needs of your spouse. If you love your mate more than you love yourself, their needs will be your priority.
(3) If you show your affection for your spouse sexually, you protect your spouse from the temptation of Satan. Remember, Satan is seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Don’t give him an opportunity to tempt, condemn, or destroy your marriage.
Are you in a danger zone right now?
Finally, if you find yourself in any of these danger zones, don’t wait until there is a new conflict before you begin resolving these issues. Don’t allow the frustration to build in your heart to a point where you want to give up. Seek reconciliation where ever you see these danger signs. Get together with your spouse today and talk over how you can change your relationship for the better. Remember, speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
Click here if you missed part I of IDENTIFYING DANGER ZONES IN YOUR MARRIAGE
If you would like more information on the marriage ministry of Pastor Steve Carr or his book Married and How To Stay That Way, please visit Covenant Keepers
Excerpt republished with permission from Covenant Keepers by Pastor Steve Carr, Copyright 2013