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The Path to True Intimacy and Better Sex

Last Updated: July 19, 2021

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Every husband who wants to improve his sex life should learn to spell.

Porn-doesnt-beat-marital-sexTypically, guys spell intimacy S-E-X, said Dr. Dan Erickson. It’s not entirely our fault. Our sexualized culture has encouraged the misspelling, and it has distorted the definition too. Intimacy in our culture often describes a “what,” Erickson said, whether it is sex, intimate encounters, intimate clothing, or an intimate evening. The list goes on.

But intimacy is not about a “what,” it is about a “who,” he said. Intimacy is better spelled “in-to-me-see.” The point is to look into another person and invite them to look into you. Intimacy can be found in deep platonic relationships, and in marriage intimacy allows a husband and wife to open their hearts and minds to each other. Intimacy is a free gift that you give and receive.

“It’s amazing what that will do for your life,” said Cathy Erickson, Dan’s wife. “Men, if you are intimate, and loving, and caring for your wife, you will get all the sex you need.”

Intimacy Requires Your Time

Intimacy didn’t come easily to the Ericksons’ marriage. They had been married 19 years when Dan was inspired by a sermon to ask Cathy to rate their marriage on a scale of 1 to 10. He approached the question with bubbly enthusiasm while she stood in the kitchen cleaning after Sunday lunch.

“I said, ‘What marriage? You really have to be here to have a marriage,’” Cathy recalled. “That was kind of a shock to him.”

Dan had looked at himself as a driven and accomplished man. He had earned his master’s and doctoral degrees, and was the executive pastor of a Phoenix, Arizona, church that drew 3,500 people on Sunday and which boasted the largest Christian school in the state. He coached his kids’ teams and served in the community. He sought to win the hearts and admiration of everyone…except his wife.

His time had been given elsewhere and he had defined intimacy with his wife as sex.

For years afterward, Dan said he did not preach on how to have a good marriage, because he knew he had to figure it out for himself and develop that deep level of intimacy in his own marriage. Today, Dan and Cathy provide seminars across the nation to share their story and paths to a rich marriage.

Intimacy Isn’t Sex

A common refrain is that men give love to get sex and women gives sex to get love. Any marriage based on that equation will suffer, and both parties will be disappointed.

True intimacy allows open communication, it invites a person to see you as you are, warts and all, and it means that you will be vulnerable to each other. True intimacy comes with trust, time, and confidence in the relationship. It is about giving and sacrificing for your spouse, putting their emotional needs ahead of your own, and seeking ways to show love without expecting something in return. The aim is to make your spouse feel treasured, respected, and loved without hidden motivations.

During a period of physical problems with his heart Dan was unable to have sex and discovered not less but even greater intimacy with his wife. He often asks guys if they could be more intimate with their wives if they were physically unable to have sex.

That concept sounds foreign to many men, because we need to change our view of intimacy, said Dr. Brad Miller of Restoration Counseling Service. “True intimacy can be emotional, spiritual, or physical, but rarely sexual,” he said. “True intimacy seeks to answer: ‘How can I know you better?,’ ‘How can I meet your needs?,’ and ‘What can I do for you?’”

“Intimacy in marriage is the duct tape that steadfastly binds a husband and wife together, even when it feels like things around them are falling apart,” Miller writes. “Additionally, it is this same intimacy that glues an elderly couple together in ways that defy our cultural mindset, even to the point of one spouse selflessly insisting on caring for the other who is handicapped by a debilitating mental or physical disability.”

Building Greater Intimacy

Though there are others, Erickson encourages people to include four ingredients in their recipes for intimacy.

1. Affection and caring. Non-sexual touching, hugs, and kisses are important. If your wife anticipates you want sex when you hug or kiss her, you have a problem that needs time and trust to correct. Also, pray for each other. Take time for each other, and show each other love and respect.

2. Vulnerable communication. Marriage should be a place where spouses can share anything, including their childhood, their pain, their crazy dreams, their disappointments, their hopes, and anything else in safety. Safe and vulnerable communication is non-judgmental and one spouse shouldn’t be trying to “fix” the other.

Listen more and listen well. God gave you one mouth and two ears, so use them accordingly.

3. Mutual living. Intimacy includes a desire for spouses to be together and share their experiences and daily life. Certainly, everyone needs time for solitude or personal hobbies, but there should be an intentional pursuit of enjoying time together. Often love and affection are measured in both the quality and the quantity of time you give.

4. Mutual giving. Do you look for ways to please your wife? For instance, Dan took over doing the laundry and washes the dishes and cleans up after meals. Do you seek ways to relieve her stress, to serve her, and make her feel special? Plan special dates with her, and let her know ahead of time so that she can be ready.

Finally, God will make you a better spouse if you are open to his Word and instruction.

“A couple’s marriage is a reflection of their intimate relationship with God,” Erickson said. “The more intimate their relationship with God, the more intimate they become with each other, and the more intimate they are with each other, the more intimate they can be with God.”

Pure Minds Online | Issue 34 | More in this issue: 10 Reasons Why Accountability in the Church is Unpopular | The New Solution to Cyberbullying: Cyberpraise

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/duysphotoshoots
  • Comments on: The Path to True Intimacy and Better Sex
    1. ck on

      Now, recently God busted me out of porn addiction. Problem is I seem not to know how to treat a real girl. I just hard for my brain to make sense of the situation but I trust God.

      Reply
    2. David J. on

      Sorry, guys. “Men, if you are intimate, and loving, and caring for your wife, you will get all the sex you need.” Speaking from painful personal experience, this is simply not true. There are a LOT of Christian wives out there who intentionally or subconsciously use sex as a weapon, usually in connection with pervasive and unbiblical disrespect of their husbands. As written, this article merely enables those wives.

      In fact, this is a very real difference between men and women, as Dr. Laura recognized in her book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands,” Shaunti Feldhahn recognized in her book “For Women Only,” etc. Men are much less complicated than women — treat them with respect and participate in frequent, willing sex, and the wife will in fact get more affection, attention, and intimacy from her husband, 9 times out of 10. But the converse is not true. Give a wife more affection, attention, intimacy, etc. and you may or may not get any additional sex, let alone “all the sex you need.” Unless, of course, it’s the wife who gets to decide how much sex her husband needs. In that case, true in the overwhelming majority of cases, by definition most husbands are already getting all the sex they need.

      Reply
      • Jonathan on

        Davis, please be careful, those books are not representative or supportive of males and females and perpetuate stereotypes that are unhelpful and archaic..

        Women are not the manipulative sex-withholding persons you insinuate. It IS true, if you treat a woman with respect, kindness, interest and loyalty, she WILL want to be more sexually active with you, because she feels safe, connected, and loved.

        Sadly, if those behaviors/things are offered with the sole intent of getting more sex, the woman will pick up on that- consciously or subconsciously- and it will interfere with safety and feeling loved, instead result in feeling used or as a tool for pleasure instead of generating intimacy. This comes from 20 years of counseling couples on this very topic…

        Men and women are capable of healthy sexual relationship that feature intimacy, as the article discusses.

        ck- good luck. Change takes time but is possible!

      • Diane on

        well David, the reverse can also be true. A wife can give her husband all the sex and respect she can possibly give, but he can leave her high and dry for intimacy. Unless people’s hearts are right with God, they cannot properly love their spouse. I’ve become convinced that persistent prayer can move these mountains. We have to keep believing that God can do a miracle in our spouse, thereby holding up the shield of faith. God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine in our marriages. I’ve been praying every day for at least a year. I’m still waiting for healing, but I see glimpses.

      • Kelly Kenyon on

        I am so sorry friend…this makes me sad…

    3. Hope on

      David J. if you speak from personal experience, I pray that God will work in your marriage.
      It’s not good to generalise about men and women, all relationships are unique. Highly recommend route1520.com.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Route1520 has some great resources. We love Tray and Melody’s ministry.

    4. Karen on

      I agree with this article, however, true intimacy is very difficult to have when there is a lack of trust between my husband and I to begin with. I am praying that I will learn to trust my husband again otherwise what is left for us?

      Reply
    5. D.t. on

      I agree with David J.
      It has been my experience that you can do everything you can possibly do for your wife, never implying or asking for sex, and never seeking it as payment. But just doing it just because you desire to make her happy. And the sex life never gets better. However, in my experience, when I’ve seen this happen, it wasn’t out of spite or for control, it was just a low sex drive, lack of paying attention. It wasn’t malicious. No 2 people are just alike. Not every one is like this or that, God has wonderfully and beautifully made each and every one of us. There not a category that all women or all men fit in. Get to know your spouse, talk to them about your problems, and be understanding to them, not judgemental or petty, and pray to God. And don’t ever go to your spouse, shoveling the Word in their face, or acting better than them, cause that attitude will blow right up in your face.

      Reply

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