My wife, Cetelia, and I like to burn Yankee jar candles in the house to add fragrance to the air. Often, we've lit the candles in the morning, and let them burn all day. By the evening, the house is saturated with the scent of strawberries, lavender, vanilla, or whatever flavor was burned that day. When it's time to go to bed, we extinguish the flames one of two ways: by a) blowing them out or b) putting the top on the jar.
My preferred way is to put the top on because I like to see how long the flame will flicker. Typically, it will last about 5-7 seconds. Of course, without oxygen, the flame will die out.
Well, consider emotional intimacy the oxygen in your marriage. Without intimacy, your marriage will slowly begin to die out. While physical intimacy is essential, the heart of a marriage is the emotional connection (otherwise sex can become a duty, necessary evil, and conjure up resentment—typically to the wife).
If emotional intimacy is so important, how can you maintain it in your marriage? Romans chapter 12 highlights two actions you can take to keep the intimacy in your marriage: love genuinely and give preference to one another.
Love Genuinely (Romans 12:9)
In ancient Greece, the word "hypocrisy" was used to describe those who acted in stage plays. In essence, they were pretending to be someone they were not in real life, so they were called hypocrites.
Pretending to love your spouse is a quick way to zap the intimacy from your marriage (not to mention you’ll eventually be exposed as a fraud). You may be wondering how you can be hypocritical in your love towards your spouse. Well, one way is to do things with an ulterior motive or to set your spouse up for a fall, while seemingly appearing to care for him/her. Another way to love hypocritically is to say one thing, yet have a completely different intention in your heart. Obviously, this weakens your marriage.
So, to keep the flame burning in your marriage, you will have to be genuine in your love.
Give Preference to One Another (Romans 12:10)
The second way to keep intimacy in your marriage is to give preference to your mate. When I hear the word preference, a picture that comes to mind is pulling up to a parking spot at the same time as another car. While I want to quickly park my car so I'll get the closer park, I've found myself on purpose letting the other person take the spot. Sure, it means I have to keep hunting, and perhaps walk a longer distance, but it also allows me to put someone else first.
In your marriage, you'll have a number of opportunities to put yourself first, second, and third, with your mate coming in at a distant fourth. While I'm not suggesting you deny your well-being or health for your mate's sake, I am advising that you actively look for ways that you can put your mate first.
For example, you want to do A, but your spouse wants to do B. While both ideas are good, and you really want to do A, consider how much joy it would bring your spouse to do B, and go for it—with a GOOD attitude!
What would happen if you and your mate both attempted to outdo one another with good deeds? The intimacy in your marriage would increase dramatically, and you'd both feel appreciated and loved in your marriage.
To review, emotional intimacy is oxygen to a marriage, and without it, your marriage will slowly die. So, to keep your hot, ensure you're loving genuinely and giving preference to your mate. These actions will help your marriage maintain the emotional intimacy it needs to burn long and hot.
Kevin B. Bullard is half the duo behind Marriage Works!, a ministry that creates Christ-Centered resources & experiences that help couples build & sustain a healthy, functional marriage. Through Marriage Works!, Kevin and his wife, Cetelia, provide coaching, weekend Getaways, and resources that lead to a healthy, functional marriage.
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