Friday night is typically sex night for us. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s something we look forward to.
You know, kick off Sabbath with some rest from the world and enjoy each other’s safeness, if that makes sense.
Last night it didn’t happen though. It could have. It almost did. Kids were all asleep. We were naked in bed. Ready to go. Except my wife wasn’t there. I mean, she was physically there, but mentally, she wasn’t. She wanted to be and had spent the day trying to gear up for sex. But, she had too much stuff going on in her head that needed to be addressed.
So, what do you do?
We could have had sex. I mean we could have pushed through that, gotten her to switch gears and made the best of it.
Instead, we talked for the next two hours. I’m not going to say it felt better than sex because that would be a lie. It wasn’t a fun time. There were a lot of tears and hugs and silences. It wasn’t fun, but it was good. Really good, you know?
Because, as much as we both love sex, sex is ultimately an expression of intimacy. It’s not intimacy itself. Sex can build intimacy and intimacy can lead to sex, but don’t confuse the two. Just because you’re having sex, doesn’t mean you’re intimate.
Well, last night we were intimate and that was something special. Something that you can’t manufacture or plan. When those moments come up, you have to grab them. It just so happened ours came up right as we were about to have sex.
And you know what? Not so long ago, I would have missed it. I probably would have pushed for mediocre sex because I wouldn’t have recognized the opportunity.
It’s only sex
You know what? It’s only sex. I know, that’s nearly sacrilegious to some of my readers.
I once had a high-school teacher say “Sex isn’t that good” and I remember thinking “You must not be doing it right…” and I still disagree with his statement. Sex is that good. But intimacy is better. I’m not sure I can explain how. But there’s something … amazing about knowing someone that deeply and being known. Of being willing to be present when someone is that open and being that open yourself. It’s uncomfortable and it can hurt to go through it. But it’s worth it.
Compared to intimacy, sex isn’t that good (Sex is still really good though, don’t get me wrong).
But, I think it takes time to recognize that. I think most of us (myself included) couldn’t see that earlier in our marriages. You may not be able to see it now. I’m sure some of my readers are thinking “You’re an idiot for giving up sex.” That’s okay. Many of us have been there.
In fact, some of members of our secret Facebook group mentioned this week that they started following the site back when it was called Sex Within Marriage. They weren’t sure if they would have even spared Uncovering Intimacy a second glance because what they wanted was more sex, not more intimacy. They’ve now realized that intimacy is the greater goal.
And you know what? Intimacy leads to more and better sex. But, you have to be willing to risk sex in order to get it a lot of the time.
So, I know a lot of you are here looking for answers about your sex life. You want to know how to have more sex. You want to know why your spouse wants sex all the time. You want to know how to quit porn or help your spouse quit porn. A lot of you are here to find the answer to better sex. And I’m going to continue answering those questions. I think they’re important.
But ultimately, I want you to reach for something better: intimacy. Because if you focus too much on sex, you might miss it. So, in order to get what you want (more and/or better sex), you will probably need to be willing to risk not having sex sometimes.
I hope that makes sense.
P.S. If you want to join us in these discussions in our secret Facebook group, check here for information on how to join it.
9 thoughts on “Are you willing to risk sex to gain intimacy?”
I do agree with the post; however, if sexual frequency is still a battle it’s very difficult for the refused spouse to provide emotional support/emotional intimacy while tending to their own wounds related to sexual refusal.
So the two work together – if sexual frequency is good then missing sex to provide emotional support to one spouse should be no big deal and should be relationship building.
Although if the spouse is consistently forgoing sex wanting talk and cry instead then the possibility that the spouse is struggling with anxiety or depression might be considered which might require outside help (counseling/medicine, etc.).g
Intimacy is great. My problem is that I don’t seem to get there and my wife doesn’t seem to be interested in it. I’m scared of it because I would have to confess and tell her about many things but I believe it would be good but she doesn’t seem to be interested. Or maybe people feel different needs of intimacy. We rarely talk real deep things. I barely feel heard in our marriage. Sometimes when I want to speak deep things she barely seems to listen. One thing I find important in intimacy is hugging and kissing and cuddling. It doesn’t need to lead to sex but it seems like she doenst like that. We almost never kiss. We do it sometimes when we have sex but outside that it rarely happens. Cuddling and hugging is very rare to. She doesnt seem
To care about that. I have tried to mention it but she doesn’t seem to care. I don’t know maybe she feels that her emotional tank is full because I try to be there for her in all that I can but I feel that she isn’t giving much back. Maybe It’s because of our different love languages. She seems to feel loved through gifts and being served. I on the other hand want to be heard and touched(again not only sexual). I always want to serve her so she feels ok but she doesn’t seem to see that I need to be heard too. I believe it’s her view of men. She seems to think men don’t need to be emotional and that if we are we’re not manly so I guess she only think it’s right that I serve her and don’t ask for much and that I should be happy when I get sex. It’s hard to talk with her about these things because as I said she doesn’t want to listen. That’s why it’s so hard to get her to read marriage blogs she seems to get uncomfortable. So I want intimacy but maybe intimacy has a different meaning to different persons.
I don’t think you’re going to be able to get around that without talking about it.
You just described my wife and our current relationship. Kind of a lonely life.
Jay, I really like this post and can relate as I have seen intimacy grow slowly and steadily (and painfully) in my marriage the past couple years and as such helped us in improving our sex life (physical intimacy). However, I am not quite ready to yet say that sex is just an expression of intimacy. Especially since, I know in your posts as in many other marriage blogs intimacy has been typically been broken out into the physical, emotional, and spiritual and not as an overarching Intimacy (with a capital I) with the other three beneath it. But I must say I have to consider that further. I believe two people can love each other at least initially without having built much intimacy in the three areas but that foundation is weak until intimacy in all three are developed. As such, I do see sex as intimacy (not just expression of) but not able to stand alone without development of the other two areas. I have heard but no longer remember how the scriptures in original Hebrew describes sex in marriage as it relates to intimacy. It might be good Jay if you could share that as well as discuss how this blog relates or differs from prior posts where intimacy was described in terms of three categories. I am intrigued by this post and would like to hear others thoughts and more of yours on this. I guess right now I would see the talking between you and your wife as emotional intimacy versus being Intimacy with a capital I with sexual intimacy (lower case) as just an expression of Intimacy. Do you see one area of the three as having a more significant role such as the emotional or maybe higher priority of focus at different stages of marriage?
I think often we split things into aspects in order to try and discuss them without having to bring the whole into the discussion. Intimacy is holistic. Physical, spiritual or emotional intimacy (and I’ve used many other types to discuss things) are not really different things. They’re all aspects of something larger, more all-encompassing. There’s also intellectual intimacy, recreational intimacy, experiential intimacy, financial intimacy and material intimacy. And I’m sure that’s not the end of it.
But under it all, or over it all, there is simply Intimacy. One doesn’t have more important a role than any othe, because they are all part of the other.
It’s like asking which is more important, grace or the law? Neither. Both. It doesn’t really matter, because they’re both part of a greater concept of Love. We only split them to simplify discussion. But they aren’t really separate things. Grace without the law is death because we have no need for a saviour and so wouldn’t welcome heaven. The law without grace is death because we would have no salvation and wouldn’t be welcome in heaven. Neither is greater or more significant because they are the same thing. Grace didn’t come to abolish the law any more than the law does away with grace. They both need each other to coexist. Because that’s what Love is. The law, balanced by grace, or visa-versa.
Spiritual intimacy, physical intimacy, emotional intimacy or any other kind of intimacy balance each other. If anyone is stronger than the other, then you have a relationship out of balance. However, focusing on Intimacy as a whole can be difficult. But, there are those rare times when the individual parts fall away and you can just be intimate, in a deeper sense than emotions, spirituality or physical intimacy affords as concepts. It is that Intimacy that matters. But you can’t ignore the others to go to it…they’re a part of it. But, if you focus on one part too much (like sex in this case), you’ll miss the bigger picture.
That said, if you have a severe imbalance, like a complete lack of sexual intimacy, then it’s clear that Intimacy is broken and needs to be dealt with. Sometimes (rarely) it’s only really about the physical intimacy part. More often it spans multiple types of intimacy because they all work together as they’re all parts of Intimacy.
Not sure if that makes sense. I’m still trying to find the words myself.
I see part of what you say, I have to think about some other parts. I also think you need more and different words to express a very complex subject. Thanks for trying!! 🙂
Jay, it does make sense but in a somewhat abstract way. As Mike says, it is complex, at least to express. Again, I do like the post and relate as a result of where my wife and I are at in developing the Intimacy that for me I am going to call Intimacy with a capital “I”. We are moving into an area I did not know was possible. Doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do yet in the typical 3 categories of intimacy but the overall state of intimacy is flowing into and affecting these areas especially sexually positively. The overall growing Intimacy state has also helped me to be better satisfied sexually with less expectations and better acceptance of what my wife offers sexually and expresses from the heart, even if it falls short of some of the desires. I wouldn’t trade what I now feel for more of my desires sexually. God has been good. It has been a slow and painful growth. Takes time to break down walls built over 35 years.
This is a really good talking point for us guys in particular, though I’d be interested in hearing thoughts from some sisters, some women, too, in addition to the brothers. I think we as men often struggle with this whole physical versus (?) emotional and spiritual intimacy thing, and need help understanding as well as being understood by our wives, girlfriends, or sometimes especially, other men.
I have certainly struggled with this at times in my 23 year marriage, though lately the intimacy with a capital “I” has been fully restored, along with the spiritual, day-to-day, conversational, and more mundane kind. Yet there is more growing to do, for both of us, and I’m sure always will be.
I understand where you’re coming from, Jay Dee, in trying to describe it and having trouble finding the right words. Here are some additional thoughts that I hope can help. I think we as men tend to over-analyze at times (raising my hand), and it seems to be a tendency in the Western world and even in our churches too (the confession fits me here too). I don’t think it’s coincidence that my wife and I have found almost unbelievable help listening to three different pastors/teachers from three different churches/ministries from halfway around the world, but who also all understand and know our culture. Two from Asia, one from Australia, to narrow it down some.
One very pertinent example of discernment vs. over-analyzing might be grappling with porn and trying to decide what’s okay in the bedroom. A Supreme Court justice (would have to look up the one, again) once said he can’t always define exactly what porn is, “but I know it when I see it”. Some things we just know are right or not, even if the words are not always and immediately there. If a Supreme Court justice in the secular realm can exercise such common sense, I believe we as believers can too. I tend to think we can apply that discernment to law and grace, too. I’m not saying it’s easy.
And I hope this hasn’t been too long-winded or analytical to be of some help. Thanks for the opportunity to share.