Listen: Dr Gary Chapman chats to Duncan and Laura about intimacy in marriage.
Falling in love and saying ‘I do’ is the easy part of getting married. But what happens after you say those vows?
Most married couples think after the wedding is when their relationship is at the height of intimacy. However, often the struggle for newlyweds is keeping that connection strong and not drifting apart.
Relationship expert and author Dr Gary Chapman opened up to Hope 103.2 about his view of marriage and how to aim for a healthy relationship.
According to the Bible, the first marriage – between Adam and Eve – was a union designed by God. So for people of faith, marriage has an inherent purpose. But many wonder what that purpose is and how to embrace it.
God’s Intention for Marriage
“Deep deep intimacy” is the intention, according to Dr Chapman.
“I believe that God designed marriage to be the most intimate of all human relationships and when you share that kind of intimacy, marriage is beautiful,” he said.
He explains that the Biblical description of marriage is a picture of “two people becoming one” – referring to Genesis, the first book of the Bible.
“It’s the opposite of being alone. God says [in the Bible] ‘it’s not good for Adam to be alone. The word ‘alone ‘ means ‘cut off or isolated’.
“It’s being deeply connected to each other.”
What are the Four Intimacies of Marriage?
In Dr Chapman’s view, deep intimacy comes in four main forms. Those four intimacies are:
The first kind of intimacy Dr Chapman described is emotional intimacy—sharing each other’s emotional journey through life. The joys and triumphs, heartaches and trials.
“This is where we are sharing love and other emotions with each other and accepting those emotions, helping each other walk through them,” he said.
Sharing openly about our thoughts and views is another form of intimacy. Sometimes the deepest connection comes through a heartfelt conversation over the dinner table.
“Intellectual intimacy is where we can talk about anything, and share our opinions and our thoughts about it, and not feel put down by the other person,” Dr Chapman said.
The third kind of intimacy – one that’s particularly important at the start of a relationship – is social. “This is where we love doing things together,” said Dr Chapman.
If you’re married or in a long term relationship, think back to when you were first dating: more than likely, you spent lots of time together, as a couple and with friends, doing things you both enjoy.
It’s a key way of building your connection with your loved one, which is why it’s important to continue ‘dating’ and spending time together when you’re married.
Last, but certainly not least in Dr Chapman’s list, is intimacy in our spiritual walk – which is particularly vital for couples who share a faith.
“Spiritual intimacy is where we’re sharing our journey with each other, and sharing things that God impressed upon us, maybe as we read the scriptures or read a book,” Dr Chapman said.
Building spiritual intimacy may also involve praying together, going to church together, discussing what you’re learning about faith, and sharing what God is saying to you.
When a married couple works on each of these intimacies, Dr Chapman says, their relationship will continue to grow in strength.