There are six external activities that can help you build a strong intimacy in your marriage.
1. Laughing Together
Laughter is a doorway to intimacy. It is like an instant vacation in a marriage and the best way to keep perspective when things go wrong. If you laugh together, you can cry together, and thereby feel more ready to trust each other when communicating feelings. If you can find humor in everything, you can survive anything. Do not take things so seriously. Learn to stop yourself when you are ready to get angry and instead use the love language of laughter. If this is your behavior at home, then you can take this behavior on the road through phone calls and little creative things you can do while you are away.
2. Encouraging Each Other
Become each other’s cheerleader. Learn how to encourage and support your spouse’s activities. Listen and really take an interest in the things your spouse likes to do. Express respect for your husband. Every chance you get, compliment him in public and in private. Build up your wife in front of others and give her honest credit for your family’s successes. Let your spouse truly know you appreciate him or her. The more we build up our spouses, the more they will feel valued by us and build us up in turn.
3. Touching Each Other
The power of intimate touch cannot be underestimated. You must develop a healthy habit of touching each other beyond just the bedroom. Intimate touch is the love connection of holding hands, cuddling, stroking each other’s hair, arm or leg, and other ways of showing physical affection. Too frequently I run into couples who do not touch each other, especially in public. Touch is the basis on which couples develop a healthy desire for each other. Touching your spouse protects you from wanting to touch others in a world of many lonely people. Touch protects you from finding a substitute for what God has designed for your marriage. Intimate touch does not have to include sexual touch, but we must develop a language of sexual touch with our spouse as well. If you learn to touch your spouse, you will lose your desire to touch someone else.
4. Talking About Your Feelings
One of the biggest barriers to growth in marriage is the absence of discussion. Couples must talk about their feelings. Life is not perfect, and marriage is not perfect. Your spouse is not perfect and neither are you. You need to talk to your spouse about how you feel and what you struggle with. Traveling with unresolved issues can actually cause a heart to grow colder. Set aside time each week for just the two of you to go out and talk. Tell your spouse what happened each day and what challenges you had personally. If you learn to invest time together while you’re at home, your time on the phone will increase in meaning and depth while our on the road.
5. Forgiving and Being Forgiven
We must not let resentments build up in our marriage; we must learn to forgive our spouses and ourselves. Conflicts in marriage happen, and we need to give our spouses permission to tell us what they are struggling with. Everyone’s feelings are valid. We must get to know how our spouses feel on issues that cause conflict between us. If you do not share and forgive, you are not in a place to see your spouse or yourself properly. We cannot express love and receive love properly if we do not forgive.
6. Protecting Your Image of Your Spouse
This is the biggest vulnerability to attack you will face when on the road. Intimacy with your spouse must not only be developed, it must be protected! Our images must be real, not make-believe. What we see on pay-per-view or over the Internet is not a real source of intimacy. If we look at other images as sources of physical intimacy, we set ourselves back and block our view of seeing things clearly. If we think about them and meditate on them, we rob ourselves of true intimacy. When you begin to find true intimacy with your spouse, you will lose your desire for substitutes and instead try to protect your relationship. The goal must be to seek and search for those things in your spouse that will grow your love and intimacy. Your spouse must be the most important person in your life.
Excerpted from the book Road Warrior by Stephen Arterburn and Sam Gullucci
Copyright © New Life Ministries. Used by permission of New Life Ministries. New Life Ministries has a variety of resources on men, women and relationships. Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE or visit www.newlife.com.