Intimacy is risky. No, I don’t mean like having sex outdoors, I mean actual intimacy, even if it’s not physical. Because true intimacy requires vulnerability, and vulnerability is … well, being vulnerable. And unfortunately, the more intimate we are, the more vulnerable we are, and the more risk there is.
Because intimacy requires being open, putting yourself out there, being transparent. And that means that your spouse has the perfect opportunity to bless you … or curse you. And it doesn’t matter what type of intimacy we’re talking about, because really it’s all the same. It’s baring yourself so that you can be truly known.
Every time you take that step out, when you open yourself up to intimacy, you are stepping off a cliff, hoping your spouse will catch you … and sometimes they don’t.
And that’s hard to deal with. I know a lot of spouses who have given up on intimacy, because they’ve been dropped too many times. It’s like that trust building game where you stand and fall backwards into your teammates arms. You have to truth that they’ll catch you. But, for a lot of spouses, they’re being left to fall 90% or more of the time. How long would you play that falling game if you knew that 90% of the time, you were going to fall flat on your butt? Then we wonder why spouses don’t trust each other.
I hear this most notably regarding physical intimacy, when the high-drive spouse put themselves out there and initiates sex, because they want to feel connected, and when it’s denied or even put off, it feels like your spouse is saying “I’m not in the mood to be connected with you right now”. Boom. Dropped on the floor.
It also happens with emotional intimacy, when you want to discuss something important and your spouse doesn’t listen, or their playing on their phone, or their just saying “uhhuh”. It’s like their responding with “I’m not in the mood to be connected with you right now.” Boom. Dropped on the floor.
More rarely, we see it with spiritual intimacy, when one spouse wants to pray, or go to church, and the other doesn’t. It’s like their saying “I have no interest in that kind of a connection with you.” Boom. Dropped on the floor.
It’s sad, because in our weddings, we promised something to affect of being there for our spouse, through the good times and the bad times. When you feel like it, and when you don’t. But when the rubber meets the road…turns out we didn’t mean it. And we all do it. I know most of you read the above scenarios and said “yeah, my spouse does that!” but how many said “yeah…I do that…”? I bet we all do. I know I do. So when I’m sitting, sulking about being dropped yet again…I need to realize that I’m not so good at catching my spouse either. In fact, it’s amazing that they keep staying to play the trust game, day after day after day after we constantly drop them on the floor. Again, and again.
What’s even more amazing is that God continues to play this game with us. Because as much as we’re trying to be vulnerable and intimate, He’s out there 100%. Fully transparent, ready to be loved…or hated. And on an hourly, if not by the minute, we drop Him again and again. Not only you and I…but the whole world. 7 billion people, dropping God…every minute…of every day. I don’t understand how He keeps coming back for more.
But He’s my inspiration. To keep coming back. To play the game again. To step out and be transparent. To put myself out there. Ready to be caught. Because when you are…wow. It’s amazing. To have that connection, be it spiritual, emotional or physical. It’s just … awesome. I wonder if that’s how God feels when we connect with Him. If it’s that same sense of elation. Of feeling like “yeah, this is what it’s all about”. Because intimacy, while risky, it just awesome, and I mean that in the classical sense of the word, not the 80’s sense. It’s life-changing and marriage-changing and … everything-changing.
So, instead of focusing on whether or not you’re being caught. Focus on who you’re catching. Show them how to play the game. Because I think a lot of spouses don’t realize how it works. Some need to be taught, which is an excellent opportunity for more intimacy…so long as you’re willing to risk it.
5 thoughts on “Intimacy is Risky”
What do you do when your spouse only catches 1% of the time (if at all), and you’re standing there, all the time ready to catch them and they refuse to play – even though you’ve always been ready to catch them, they are simply too untrusting to trust you? (despite never having given them a reason not to trust you). To escape metaphors, a real example is trying to have a conversation with a spouse who will neither tell you how they are feeling nor listen to how you are feeling (or won’t talk to you at all and won’t listen to you at all).
I am so exhausted and broken from not having a single human in my life to catch me ever. I know I have God, but God created human beings for intimacy with other humans – the intimacy of a spouse, the intimacy of family, the intimacy of a church family, the intimacy of friends. It’s painful each day being denied all of those, especially by my husband, while always offering intimacy to him and watching those around him offer intimacy to him and him rejecting it.
As I mentioned, he will neither talk to me nor listen to me. My own family are chaotic at best and often abusive. His family think so very highly to him and are always there for him, that they support him even when he does the wrong thing, turning a blind eye to violence against me, and defending his verbal abuse of me (“he can’t help it, he’s stressed”, “he doesn’t know any better, he has aspergers”, “it’s not his fault, he has anxiety/depression”…. while it is true he is stressed and aspergers and anxiety/depression, I have aspergers but I know how to not abuse people, I have much more severe anxiety and depression than he does, but I don’t take it out on others, and how stressed do they think I feel when on top of having the same stressors as he does, I’m also being abused?). He has really good friends who are constantly there for him and always offering to help. The majority of my friend abandoned me when I married my first husband because they were career obsessed and money obsessed while all I wanted was family and to follow God’s path for me. Most of the few that were left disappeared when my first husband started lashing out and verbally abusing and threatening them. The few that were left have been gradually disappearing over the last few years as I moved several states away to be with my (second) husband and they couldn’t be bothered to stay in touch. I don’t even want to talk about our church family.
All I know is I’m lonely. I gave up the little support I had from family and friends and my church family, to move to be with my husband. I have tried to make new friends at my husband’s church, but every time I seem to be making a genuine friend, they move away and don’t stay in contact (it’s not helping we live in a town with a very transient population). I am trying very hard to make friends, but it’s not easy, especially when I have a lot of health problems, can’t work (so don’t have that option to meet people), have one child with special needs, and the other is going through the diagnostic process to see if she may also have special needs. It’s heartbreaking to chase friendships with the precious little energy I have and get nowhere.
But even that would be bearable if I had the love and support of my husband. But I don’t. On a good day, all I get from him is a few grunts, and then pretending I’m invisible. On a bad day… well I don’t want to go there. He has been sleeping in his study for many months, refusing to eat with the children and I for several years now. Our only holiday together was our honeymoon. There has been no spiritual, emotional or sexual intimacy for a very long time.
I have tried to teach him in every way possible – I have tried setting an example to him, always being there for him, reaching out to him despite his avoidance of even emotional intimacy leading him to become violent at times, I have tried giving him things to read like christian books on marriage, blogs like this one, even relevant secular literature, I’ve tried marriage counsellor (where he turns up in body but not in mind or spirit), I’ve tried the resources that people like our pastor have suggested (eg marriage courses etc), where he will last about 10-15 minutes and decide it’s boring and walk away and ignore everything he heard before walking away.
Everyone, including many people from our church including our pastor, my family, his family, his own friends (not his family but they refuse to acknowledge what is actually happening), marriage counsellors, individual counsellors, they all tell me to leave him. Even those from our church have said they can’t see any way he will change, that a separation will end up permanent. But here I am, still reaching out, risking intimacy. Because I don’t want to leave, knowing there will be no coming back.
How long do you keep reaching out with intimacy and getting shut down and hurt before it’s ok to give up? I don’t mean seek a divorce, but to just stop reaching out knowing full well it’s a guarantee you will be rejected.
It is painful. It is lonely. I understand. It wasn’t until I really started working on me and analysizing the lies I had been believing and exchanging them for truths of what God has done for me, believes about me, what He says to me that marriage starting looking better. It is not there yet, but I am healthier. Starting believing, for example: You are worthy, you are beautiful, you are the apple of His eye. Keep rejecting the lies. Keep forgiving. Eventually You become more confident, more beautiful, you smile more, you have a more positive outlook. You and Daddy God are really tight.
All the things you greatly desire of your husband …he can’t give you and he is tired of being your savior. Relieve him of that burden and he will start to see you and the marriage in a different light. Also, watch out for the Eve complex…men hate it. It is a controlling, whining and manipulating spirit that will try to use you against your husband. God bless!
I relate to this 99.95% of the time in my marriage. I do not understand why!!?? Being the wife, there is absolutely nothing I can say, think or feel that is okay it seems….reality of it is very real and spot on. I am dropped, dropped some more and it continues. I wonder why people fail to show grace and mercy when their spouse has shown so much of it and pursues them with love and desire even after there has been so much, no exaggeration here, of sexual sin against of all types for 8 years, selfishness to the core, abuse in all areas….etc. what makes men and (women) treat someone like this? I do not understand why others like parents feelings and wants are more important to them to let down or to make and bend to make them approve and others who need and want the demand and attention of affection or time with and it is never a choice for the spouses wants, needs, ideas etc. I feel like a caged bird without wings to fly. Being a stay at home with 3 kids and who has multiple sclerosis but is active and attractive I feel just lost and not worth much. But I know I am and there is not any reason why there should not be. No broken trust from my part….even though I understand how feelings in a heated minute can cause hurts but nothing that has truly established those. I am totally trusting God, getting back up and trying and trying and believing God WILL move mountains in my marriage….He already has and still currently is.
Beautiful post. I was just saying this to the Lord this morning…I want to love like He loves and forgive like He does. Thank you for your thoughtful and provocative posts. I’m in that 40% and my sex life improves month by month! (Praise God!)
It’s more than refusing sex, not listening, not joining in spiritually. Loving somebody means you let them all the way in your heart, and that gives them power to hurt you like nobody else can. The remark they think is clever or innocent that actually pushes hard on your insecurities and past wounds, or being taken for granted, or hundreds of other ways spouses can wound each other without ever meaning to.
I told my daughter when she was about to get married that even though the two of them were really in love, he was going to hurt her feelings in some way more than anybody else ever has, and that is a normal event in marriage. You have to forgive and use those moment to teach your spouse more about you, what you need and what they need to avoid. About three months after the wedding it happened and I had to remind her of what I said which seemed to be helpful. They are about to have their 2nd anniversary and we have the cutest little granddaughter now.