In the Christian world, we often hear talk about the importance of intimacy in marriage. Most of the time, intimacy is presented as something you have to work hard to achieve, and there’s no doubt that we can ruin lots of opportunities for intimacy with our pride, selfishness, or oblivious attitudes. But, the truth is that your marriage is absolutely filled with intimate moments.
Think of a mother who is up at night with her new baby. She is sitting in a dark room with her little charge, and no one else in the world is privy to the moment they are having. She looks at her baby and is awed by the privilege of being here, even though she is exhausted, sharing this quiet moment with her child. Even the bad nights bond them. Even the sicknesses and the crying for no apparent reason and the worry and the frustration breeds intimacy here in the night, when she alone can be his mother. And when her eyes are so heavy that she can hardly believe she is upright, still she holds her baby and stretches her hand all the way across his tiny back, vowing that she will never forget how this feels, this honor. This gift.
Now think about how many moments you have with your spouse that are private, concealed from the rest of the world. Wives, think about the opportunities you have to be for your husband what only you can be. Think about how many moments you live sharing close spaces, sleeping in the same bed, witnessing all the quirks and habits. Think about how many memories you share. Husbands, do you ever consider how special it is that you can touch your wife’s body in ways that no one else can? Or that you see her stepping out of the shower? Do you think about what a privilege it is to sit with him while he grieves a loss or to reassure him when he has lost his confidence? Do you cherish the fact that you can hold him close at night? That you know what she wears to bed? That you have memorized his breathing as you lie there together, night after night?
Intimate moments are all around you. Moments that are closed off from the rest of the world. When I look back on the past nineteen years of marriage, it’s the intimate moments that mean the most to me–moments that most people wouldn’t think twice about. Yet, all of those moments are always there, underpinning our connection to each other. Not every intimate moment is a pleasant one. Just like a mother dealing with her screaming child, sometimes a husband and a wife will experience intimately difficult times. But, intimacy comes through hardship and pain as much as through joy and pleasure. In fact, intimacy, believe it or not, is just a natural result of living life together. But, only if we stop to recognize and appreciate it.
Don’t overlook the intimate moments in your marriage. They are the ones you’ll miss when your spouse is gone–the simple ways that two people move with and around each other when they are sharing a life. If we will only realize how special it is to wake up next to another person. To lie down next to him at night. To share laughs and tears and meaningful looks across crowded rooms. This is the very intimacy that we are looking for. It’s right here, if only we will see it.