Marriage and Your Intimacy Thermometer

DISCLAIMER: Thankfully, I have a group of pretty honest girlfriends (love you girls!) and we aren't scared of touching on the delicate subject of sex. I understand there are many different facets of this topic that I won't be able to touch on. I want to avoid the danger of giving simplistic advice for complicated situations. My hope is to help you evaluate your own "physical intimacy thermometer" to see where there may be areas for growth.

"Sex is like a thermometer in marriage, not a thermostat, in that it measures the health of your intimacy rather than sets it" (Art of Marriage).

If this is true, what would your thermometer say?

  • Uninterested (By you or your husband.)
  • Complicated subject (There are too many facets to this topic.)
  • Passionate (Any time and all the time!)
  • Scheduled (Put an X on the calendar.)
  • Creative (Intentionally looking for thirty spare minutes.)
  • Got . . . kids, work schedules, stress . . . (No time for intimacy.)

Most of us know our husbands are wired differently than we are. We usually desire emotional intimacy first—and an overflow of that is a desire for physical intimacy. Our hubbies can typically enjoy physical intimacy, even when emotional intimacy is out of whack.

God created the gift of physical intimacy with our husbands to make much of Him.

There's plenty to hinder our emotions. Life wears us down. Moms of newborns to teens understand the everyday weariness of diapers, dishes, laundry, errands, sporting events, church events, discipline, friendship, and school events. When we get to the end of the day and receive "the look" from our husbands, we sometimes think, Hmm, what can I do to avoid what is to come? (Just being honest, girls!)

Fellow lovers of Jesus, I don't believe this is how God intended sex to operate. He created the gift of physical intimacy with our husbands to make much of Him. With that in mind, I think we need to be proactive about asking, "What are ways we can ‘spice' up our thermometer and create more excitement in the physical aspect of our marriage?"

Planning

First of all, as unromantic and un-Hollywood as this sounds, there are times we have to plan for sex.

Planning could include making space on your calendar so you don't feel overwhelmed with a zillion other things. This would allow you the emotional energy and time for the intimacy your husband desires.

We should be working toward oneness with our husband in all areas of life.

I believe planning can help create an atmosphere of emotional health. There are days I'll text my husband "our" plans for the night. It causes a sense of excitement, knowing we're both anticipating being together. It might sound backward because it's not spontaneous, but you might want to give it a try.

Planning well doesn't just apply to sex, either. We should be working toward oneness with our husband in all areas of life. When we're working in the same direction—in child raising, finances, church/ministry commitments, vacations—it will foster emotional health. When we feel "at odds" with our husband in any area, it subtracts from the goal we are working toward. Failing to plan can cause great tension in our intimacy.

Un-plugging

Another way we can work toward emotional health is "un-plugging" at least one night a week.

Turning off all connection to the outside world (which is amazingly difficult . . . who wants to ignore the beep of a text message?) and focusing all our attention on our husband can be instrumental in cultivating emotional health.

I believe nurturing a healthy sex life starts with honest, transparent communication. When John and I have open conversations, I feel the closest to him. I know this doesn't exist in all marriages. (Although most women feel like they are the only ones who have "off-limit" topics with their husbands, they are not.) If you feel like you are unable to communicate openly with your husband, the emotional health of your marriage may be suffering. It may take baby steps of communication over a few months, but working toward better communication can greatly enhance your intimacy.

Prepping

Finally, consider the need for "prep time."

There are great benefits to taking time to transition from your daily routine of mommy/working woman to lover. Take a relaxing bath, turn down the lights, turn up the music, light the candles, and pray for the right attitude. Do whatever helps you personally prepare for enjoying time with your husband.

So real wife, what is one thing you can do to cultivate physical intimacy in your marriage?

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About the Author

Heather Patenaude

Heather Patenaude

Heather Patenaude is passionate about living a Christ-centered life. This passion flows over to being a wife to John and a homeschool mom to Miles, Luke, and Clark. After attending True Woman '08, God began developing in her a deep desire to disciple women to understand God's beautiful design for His daughters.