Measuring Intimacy

(NOTE – This post is not for wives experiencing severe issues in their marriages – like infidelity, a very controlling husband, an abusive husband, a husband who is not in his right mind due to mental illness/drug abuse/alcohol abuse, etc… If you are in such a situation, please seek appropriate one-on-one help and godly counsel.)

I used to try to use the frequency of intimacy, date nights,  deep discussions/emotional connection, or the frequency of loving emails from my husband to measure the quality of our marriage and to attempt to measure Greg’s love for me. When I saw that we had a day with one or more of these things, I would mentally check things off on my list and conclude – “Check, check, check. Yes! Our marriage is awesome! We are close and everything is good. Greg obviously loves me today!”

I thought I was “more secure” in his love if he did these things on my list.

I didn’t count the things that I didn’t think of as being loving – things like Greg taking my car to get new tires, renovating the house, helping with the children, taking care of the yard, taking out the trash, sitting beside me and cuddling quietly while he watched TV, eating supper with me, coming home right away to be with me, etc…

The next day or the next week, if there was nothing to check off (in the specific way that I counted things), then I was upset. My emotions were at the mercy of what Greg did or did not do for me on my narrow checklist.

The problem is – real intimacy isn’t about checklists.

It isn’t about a formula. It isn’t about me sitting back and expecting to be catered to and holding a checklist over my husband every moment to make sure he is doing the things I want him to do. It isn’t about me being entitled. It isn’t about something that is necessarily measurable or something that could be charted on a graph each week or each month.

I am not a boss doing a job performance review. I am not a kindergarten teacher monitoring and judging his behavior – giving him a smiley face or a frowny face each day.

I mean, there can be SOME value in realizing, “We are not talking, not having physical intimacy, and not doing anything together at all for weeks on end.” That means there is a problem – unless you are in a major crisis at the time or under very severe stress. So – yes – it can be good to be aware if things suddenly plummet and seek to address any issues.

Real intimacy is about a relationship with a person who is unique and who has his own feelings, issues, problems, triumphs, challenges, and baggage. It is about seeking to understand my husband better and to discover his perspective and his masculinity. It is about us getting to know each other and being a safe place for each other. It is about creating a harbor of peace and a sanctuary where authenticity and vulnerability are cherished and protected. It is about allowing him to be himself. It is about enjoying each other.

In real intimacy:

  • There is freedom. We both have free will to make our own decisions. Neither tries to control or dominate the other.
  • There is joy in being together and getting to know each other’s worlds and explore each other’s minds, hearts, perspectives, and bodies.
  • I understand that my husband always feels connected to me and bonded with me unless I say that I don’t feel connected. So I am free to rest in his love for me – even when it is unspoken. (Perhaps your husband feels the same way?)
  • I enjoy and appreciate what he gives me.
  • I learn to understand and marvel at the ways he shows love to me.
  • I approach my husband and his masculine world with wide-eyed wonder at the opportunity to get a glimpse into his world.
  • I share my feelings, needs, perspective, desires, and concerns respectfully and lovingly in a way that honors Christ and my husband.
  • If I think he acted or spoke in an unloving way – I do not take offense immediately – but rather seek to understand his perspective in order to avoid making wrong assumptions.
  • I am not afraid to be with my husband or to be away from my husband.
  • I am stable when he is there and when he is gone – because my emotional/spiritual well-being depends on Christ every moment of every day, not on my husband.
  • There is some healthy emotional/spiritual space between myself and my husband.
  • I share my feelings simply and let them go. I ask for what I would like simply, briefly, without pressure or coercion. I don’t have to use guilt/manipulation/playing the martyr. I know my husband can hear me when I speak my concerns and emotions simply and briefly. I trust he will think about what I said and seek to do what is best.
  • I know how to confront my husband if necessary about sin in his life in a godly, productive, Spirit-filled way.

Now I realize that if I am more focused on being able to chart or check off things to prove to myself that my husband loves me – I have some motive checking to do in my own heart with God.

  • Am I trying to find my fulfillment or security in what Greg does for me?
  • Am I expected Greg to fulfill the deepest needs of my heart that only God can really fulfill?
  • How do I respond when he doesn’t do what I want him to and I can’t check off my list? Do I respond with resentment or bitterness?
  • Am I content in Christ alone?
  • Am I finding all of my fulfillment, acceptance, love, peace, strength, purpose, power, and identity in Christ Jesus alone?

When I stop idolizing my husband and put Christ alone on the throne of my heart – I am free! I am free to engage in intimacy on every level and to enjoy it with my husband. But I am also free to be content and stable emotionally/spiritually if my husband is not available to do things with me that I would enjoy or if he slips up and has a moment (or even a season) of being imperfect and human. I can be content when my husband does loving things for me or when he doesn’t. I have received God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and unspeakable love so I have these things to give in abundance to my husband, who is my teammate and fellow traveler.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11b-13

RELATED:

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

Is My Husband Bound by My Personal Convictions?

25 Ways to Be a Safe Place for Your Husband Emotionally

Expectations

Security in Christ

The Wash Cloth Incident

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An email I received from a wife – thank you to this wife for allowing me to share!
Hello April…
Wanted to share something funny.

Our bathroom has been torn up for over a year now. So, I have bathroom stuff in 3 rooms (the kitchen, my bedroom and the tiny spare bath). I already caught my daughter using my face wash cloth (in the kitchen) to wipe up balsamic vinegar. yuck, it left a huge brown stain on my white wash cloth. Today, I caught my husband using a new wash cloth to wipe up coffee spills.

“AAAAaaahhhh don’t do that!” I squeal!

He momentarily freezes, totally shocked.

“That’s my face rag!” I explain (with boldness)

“Well, you’ve got your stuff all over, how am I supposed to know?” he retorts angrily.

“Well, IF the bathroom would be done, I wouldn’t have to have my stuff ALL OVER THE PLACE!!” proudly defending myself.

(((((Yikes….))))))

Then I hear YOUR voice reminding me that an unsubmissive wife is prideful. That the way we speak to our husbands reveals how much better than them we think we are.

I guess I was thinking ‘I deserve a bathroom. Shame on him for not having a nice bathroom for me. I’ll make him feel stupid for not having the bathroom done BY NOW!!’

I apologized to him (and I praise God that He is faithfully showing me attitudes of pride and entitlement in my heart).

It’s so freeing to let it go…just let God take the junk and replace it with joy and peace.

 

You are right, He died for me, I didn’t deserve that. I deserve hell. I don’t deserve my nice life today and I should stop acting like I do. (I go to a church that teaches this fact, but sometimes we need to see where it really applies: to me, I’ve really got some “I don’t deserve this” issues going on.)

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

I am so excited about what God is doing in this wife’s heart! She caught the pride right after she spoke and apologized. THAT was wise – and it honored Jesus.

She is beginning to realize that intimacy with her husband and with God is more important than being “right” about the bathroom, or her face rags. WHAT AN IMPORTANT THING TO SEE!!!!

You begin to get used to eating humble pie as you learn to do things God’s way. And, you know what? It’s really not that bad. The taste kind of grows on you!

Eventually, God’s Spirit will help her to catch things BEFORE she says them.

Over time, God’s Spirit will transform her mind and replace the negative thoughts and pride with humility, peace, joy and thanksgiving – so one day, she won’t even think the prideful thoughts. There will be some slip ups – but God can give us many victories over sin!

It is ok to say, “I can’t wait to see how beautiful the new bathroom will be! Thank you for working on it. I really appreciate your willingness to make our home beautiful!”

A Wife's Little Victories as God Changes Her Heart

1167176_54598022From a dear wife, thank you so much for sharing!!

Since the argument, I have been praying and applying the principle of being respectful towards my husband and it really does work. Maybe a part of it is that after an argument we are both usually more kind and careful to act in the right way too…which is positive also because it shows we both still really do care…

On Valentine’s day decided to get my husband a small gift and a card – which he liked…we went for a swim together and that was nice, as the day came to an end and there was no little gift for me,  I tried to be logical about it telling myself it didnt matter if he got me anything and I was able to stay kind and composed thru the day but as soon as my head hit the pillow my eyes just started to well with tears and I couldn’t help it I cried quietly for probably an hour.. my husband kept asking what was wrong and if i needed a hug (if he was angry at me he would normally ignore it or not be as kind about it) but I just said I was fine and it was okay he didnt need to hug me. I did that because i knew if i said something it might cause an argument as he would feel criticised and also late at night is never a good time for us to talk about these things.  (From peacefulwife – I believe she could have graciously accepted his hug and thanked him for checking on her.  But I appreciate that she didn’t want to cause a conflict.)

In the morning my husband came up to me and wanted to know if i was okay. I then told him that i felt sad that i didnt get any flowers.  (From Peacefulwife – i like how she shared her feelings simply and without blaming him).  He was kind of surprised but did not see it as a problem at all. He said, for our anniversary next week I will definitely get you flowers. He didnt say it under duress either. You are right when my husband feels respected he is definitely more willing to meet my needs. And I do feel I need to be true to myself – first to examine my ‘needs’ and if it really is a something i need that only my husband can meet to share it respectfully with him. I felt that even though I was sad it still came across respectfully and that made all the difference. (from Peacefulwife – yes!!)

I think i am learning that: If i can overlook an offense, accept and anticipate that my husband will snap at me when he is stressed over seemingly minor ‘mistakes’ and respond with grace and a calm composure, speak my needs to him respectfully and preferably in a ‘light/fun’ way, join him in some of the things that are important to him – We will have a much happier marriage and just these past few days have shown that.Y

Yesterday at church my husband forgot some papers and wanted me to rush home and get them. He sort of asked me in a bit of a frazzled way and I could tell the girl I was speaking to was kind of like ‘oh dear ok..’ but stayed calm said, “Yep, sure,” and went home to get them. Then he called me up and i was aware that probably other people were around when he spoke to me, he was like ‘where are you!!??? DO NOT stop to get anything at home, take the papers and come right back’. Before, i might have said with a ‘tone’ ‘I AM ALMOST BACK! ARE THERE OTHER PEOPLE AROUND? YOU DONT NEED TO TALK TO ME LIKE THAT, STOP PANICKING’ etc…and this would flare him up.

But i remembered from our last incident that this is the way he is in these situations so i just listened and said ‘yep sure i am only 30 seconds away so i will see you soon’. It was so much better and later he was the one that told me about how he got into a bit of a panic. It  happened numerous times last week too. I was helping him with a project for work and he started to get all stressed and worked up. I stayed calm and said ok so this is what you need me to do ‘and started writing it all down’. and it turned out fine. That calms him down too. Also at lunch yesterday with friends he shared something little i didnt really want him to – about how he thought I didn’t react well with doctors at the hospital once – but instead of trying to set him straight (probably for the first time) i just smiled and looked at him (remembering this is just a small mistake i can overlook). And then our FRIENDS were the ones who were like kind of coming to the rescue and just helped ‘move the conversation on’. It was so much better than us arguing in front of them! And i didn’t FEEL offended i could truly just let it go. Later on we were sitting on the couches all talking and I noticed my husband was playing with my hair as we all talked, i thought how sweet he is such a ‘man’s man’ but is not embarrassed to play with my hair in public.

I heard something in a sermon too recently. If you add fire to fire you get an even bigger fire. But how can you put out a fire? with water. That is why in these situations i need to diffuse them with water (grace, calmness) and not more fire (stress/anger etc).

I definitely feel God drawing me to himself lately, i think i have had a real grieving period with facing my infertility but He  has been constantly wooing me. I think you are right i need to spend time with God for the purposes of enjoying him as my Creator, listening to the love messages He has for me (both in his word and in nature), continuing to teach me how to bee a good wife, daughter, friend… seeking His will in specific situations and also seeking wisdom for situations i may come across that day.

I will also pray that God will help me put the desire for children in a proper perspective. One thing i have been thinking about lately and finally found the answer yesterday is was there anybody in the Bible who was married, struggled with infertility, pleaded with God for a child, and did not receive a baby in the end? And the answer was no. Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Elizabeth, Hannah. Their infertility was not permanent although they had to wait for a very LONG time (eg. 100 years in some cases). Although that doesnt mean that God OWES me a child or that i will definitely have one… it was encouraging to me to see that God more used these times to work in the lives of these couples and for them to learn to trust him fully.

What Is Disrespect in Marriage?

UPDATED 6/24/2016

I am going to share about things that cause men to feel disrespected by their wives. (Many of these things would feel very disrespectful to wives, as well.) Every man has his own list of what feels disrespectful and respectful to him.  Some things are almost universally one way or the other to almost all men.  Some things are particular to your husband.  So – what matters most is what is respectful and disrespectful to YOUR man. That’s why it is important to ask him about his preferences and what bothers him and what speaks respect to him.  When things are not tense – you could ask him about some of the things on this list and get his take on the different items.  I wouldn’t ask him about all of them at once – but maybe ask about a few at a time every few days or so and REALLY pay attention to his answers.  Maybe print this out and check the ones that bother him so that you don’t forget.  You’ll need to custom-tailor your respect to your husband for best results!

Keep in mind, too, that a lot of the things that really feel disrespectful to our men are things God labels as sin. Sin is destructive, even if we think it is a “small thing.” Ultimately, the greatest goal is to please Christ and to bless our husbands. We have so much power to destroy our husbands or to build them up.  How I pray God will convict us and open our eyes and that we might learn to be respectful, cooperative wives who value our husbands’ leadership and who honor Christ with every thought, attitude, word and action!

Some of these things will seem like small things because we have been desensitized to disrespect in our culture. Disrespect for men is mainstream now. But just because this is how all of the other women at work or even at church act – that doesn’t mean that is how God desires us to act. The way I treat others is about my character and whether God’s Spirit is in charge of my heart and life or my flesh is in charge. And honestly, most of the things on this list of sin in one way or another – either with our attitudes, motives, words, or actions. As believers in Christ, we are called to live in holiness – not for our spouses, but to please God. And He gives us the power we need to live in victory over sin and in obedience to Him in Christ.

NOTE – I am not writing this post for wives whose husbands have severe issues like major uncontrolled mental health problems, is involved in an active addiction, is truly abusive to you or your children, or is involved in unrepentant infidelity. If you have really serious issues in your marriage, please seek godly, one-on-one, appropriate counsel from someone you can trust.

A GENERAL LIST OF THINGS THAT TEND TO FEEL DISRESPECTFUL TO HUSBANDS/MEN:

– constantly questioning him
– having a critical/judgmental spirit toward him about many things
– acting like he can’t handle his life and responsibilities
– treating him like a child
– using an “angry mama” tone of voice
– scolding him
– frowning a lot
– lots of negative emotions almost all the time
– making demands
– giving directives (bossing him around) rather than polite requests or suggestions “You should,” “You better,” “You need to…”
– freaking out rather than trusting God and trusting him (whenever possible – men tend to respond much better to our trust than to our worry or fear)
unhealthy boundaries where we try to be responsible for things for which they are actually responsible (their spiritual choices, their emotions, their decisions) or we try to make them responsible for things for which we are actually responsible
– humiliating him, especially in front of other people
– being very negative about him in private, but especially in public
– biting sarcasm that is meant to cut him down
– using our words to destroy
– bringing up things from the past that were supposedly forgiven
– keeping a record of every wrong thing he has ever done or said
– attempting to be his conscience or his Holy Spirit
– telling other people negative things about him (If we really have a problem, we should go to God first and then to our husbands. If they are involved in serious unrepentant sin, we may have to involve a trusted counselor, mentor, or pastor. But this stuff doesn’t generally need to be shared with our coworkers, family, friends, church members, neighbors, or Facebook friends.)
complaining
– arguing rather than respectfully discussing
– forcing a very important conversation when he is not ready yet and still needs a bit of time (minutes, hours, maybe days) to process his thoughts or strong emotions
– leaving the room in anger
– criticizing him to the kids
– rolling my eyes
– sighing in exasperation
– undermining his authority to the children
– jumping in to help him when he didn’t ask for help
– giving unsolicited advice
– pride/self-righteousness – looking down on him, thinking I am so much more spiritual than he is
– labeling his sin/temptations as much worse than my sin/temptations
– bitterness
– insulting him
– playing the martyr
– trying to put him on a guilt trip
– manipulation
– refusing to believe him when he is actually trustworthy
– making plans without checking with him (especially big plans)
– spending a lot more money than you had both agreed to, blowing the budget, being irresponsible with money
– not appreciating his contributions to the marriage and family
– demanding sex when they are sick, hurt, exhausted, or feeling extremely disrespected
– withholding sex as punishment
– doing nothing to show respect for our own appearance
– acting like things that are important to him are not a big deal
– taking over and making decisions without giving him a voice
– sharing nothing ourselves and giving up all of our thoughts, opinions, insights, and wisdom – giving up our personhood and expecting him to handle absolutely everything as if he is the dad instead of the husband
idolatry of him, the marriage, happiness, or romance
– expecting him to fail
– expecting him to be perfect and to meet the deepest needs of our soul that only Jesus can meet

REALLY SERIOUS DISRESPECT:

– screaming
– cussing
– throwing things/destroying property
– threatening physical harm
– actually trying to physically harm him
– purposely alienating his children from him
– lying (especially about really big things)
– flirting, infidelity
– total refusal to cooperate with him
– initiating a divorce (unless I have biblical reasons)
– very public extreme humiliation
– comparing him to other men sexually
– insulting his abilities sexually/his manhood
– insulting his abilities to provide financially

RELATED:

What Is Respect in Marriage?
My Husband Shares What Really Speaks Respect to Him
25 Ways to Respect Myself
25 Ways to Show Real Respect to Your Husband
Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin
Abuse
Signs Your Husband May Be Feeling Disrespected and Unloved
23 Signs Your Husband Is Beginning to Trust You Again

If you have a really difficult husband, please check out Nina Roesner’s Strength and Dignity eCourse.