If you’ve been married for any length of time, you know that the relationship you have with your spouse should be like no other. Two people who’ve made a commitment to each other have started on a journey to merge their lives together. This is almost always a beautiful and messy process all at the same time! At least it has been in my marriage so far.

The process of becoming closer to my wife has gone through a lot of transformation over the years and yet I’m still learning. This word, INTIMACY, has taken on a deeper meaning for me as I’ve discovered what makes my wife tick and what she craves emotionally from me.

For some people, a phrase like “intimacy within marriage” is a scary one, while for others, it just equates to sex.

The truth is, intimacy relies on a lot of different things all working together, making it something we must learn in order to put into practice.

So what steps can you take today to build intimacy within marriage, especially if the flame feels like its starting to go out? Here are three that I’ve found to be landmark actions that I need to take to build intimacy within marriage:

1. Encourage

Your spouse needs to know that you love them and that you’re pleased with them. That you find them attractive and gifted at what they do. Encouragement requires you to KNOW your spouse and be PRESENT to their frustrations, fears, and anxieties. It also means celebrating with them on what goes well. If you’re not used to talking, start practicing! We all need encouragement, especially our spouses. Remind them on a daily basis all of the great things you see coming out of their life. Something we often forget is the weight that our spouses often bear upon their shoulders. We should be helping to take those burdens off of them through our words and our actions.

2. Serve

Way too often, we can get stuck in a mindset that our work, responsibilities, and task lists are more important than the GAZILLION things our spouses do on a daily basis. This couldn’t be further from the truth! One of the greatest ways to build intimacy within marriage is not only sharing chores like doing the dishes, vacuuming the living room, and washing the laundry, but also giving your spouse the occasional time and space to flourish. For example, you might take the kids off their hands so they can go hang out with a friend.

Bottom line: share the load by serving one another.

3. Touch

Before your mind goes straight to thinking that I’m just talking about sex, realize that touch is way more than physical intimacy. This is an area where I’m still growing in in my marriage.

Hugs, kisses, and especially back rubs are all crucial points of touch throughout the day. There are moments when I’m at work that I think about my wife and realize how much I love her and how thankful for her I am that I want to run up to her and just hold her in my arms. Am I following up on that thought and actually doing it? It’s only one form of touch, but oh so important. One of the greatest killers to a marriage is a cold, distant spouse who’d rather hold the TV remote than their partner’s hand.

Certainly there are many more ideas for building intimacy in your marriage, but these have been some of the biggest in mine that I’ve grown in over the past few years (and continue to grow in).

We have a responsibility to NOURISH and CHERISH our spouses. Through encouraging, serving, and contact, we can do that and build true intimacy within marriage! We must take action and pursue our spouses on a daily basis, just as Jesus pursues us.

Bonus question: Do you take time out to pray with and over your spouse? What about spending time digging into scripture together? These are so important for the spiritual life of a marriage. Believe me, I know keeping all of this at the forefront of your marriage can be tough, but it bears fruit in the long run.

I’m of the opinion that there’s one person that God has planned for you to commit your life to and love for the rest of your life. To me, this means that I only have one real shot to get it right and so I want to make it count. I carried a lot of lying, deception, and dishonesty into our marriage because of an addiction to pornography that controlled my life. So I’ve had to really learn the above three actions in pretty drastic ways.

It’s never too late to build intimacy within marriage if you feel like it’s missing. But it takes intentionality and healthy actions on your part that help make your spouse a better person. It’s a lifelong journey of beautification and deepening of our love for each other here on earth. But it’s so worth it.

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