As I lay in bed next to my sleeping husband, I watched his eyes twitch with every breath he breathed. I felt his body heat and saw his blood pumping from his heart to his toes. As I gently massaged his hair, feeling the pulse in his temple, I noticed the way he repositioned himself so I could reach the other side of his head.
He would never allow another person—not even his mother—to rub and massage his head. And as I smelled his natural aroma, I realized something: This was an intimate moment. We were clothed, but it’s as if we were naked.
We only allow each other to get this close.
Intimacy in a relationship is far more than just sex. It’s a shared moment between two people, a connection on many levels: physical, emotional, and intellectual. And that’s something that I’ve felt most deeply in marriage.
For my husband and me, our bed is a safe haven where we share our most intimate moments. We spend a lot of time talking there: about our future plans and dreams, our day’s work, and how it affects us. We share our secrets and ideals with each other. Our bed is more than just a place to lay our head; it holds our fears, tears, and future plans.
In many relationships, these moments of intellectual intimacy begin in the early stages: maybe a conversation spikes an interest in each other as two people realize that they share many of the same dreams. But we’ve found that it’s also an important part of deepening our relationship with each other in marriage.
My husband and I also enjoy emotional intimacy. We share our deepest fears and insecurities with each other, and we help each other to manage those fears or feelings. My husband seeks me out when he is anxious. He tells me his thoughts and feelings, and we work together to find peace or to resolve his uneasy feelings. He wouldn’t share those moments with anyone else, not even his mother or best friend.
Likewise, when I’m having a bad day I’ll vent to him or ask for advice. When I’m feeling weak or wildly emotional, I turn to him. He helps me and guides me to a safe place where I can see how my emotions control me. When we allow each other to see the true colors of our soul like that, we reveal our emotional nakedness. And because we spend a lot of time cultivating that emotional intimacy, no one knows me better than my husband, and no one knows my husband better than me.
Finally, there is the physical intimacy. Many times when we think of this, we automatically think of sex. But there are also those tender caresses and touches that don’t lead to sex: holding hands or kissing lightly on the cheek. Or the simple gesture of a pat on the back or touch of the arm. Those are intimate expressions: It means you’re comfortable enough with a person to allow them into your personal space.
Sex alone isn’t enough to build intimacy. When I think about the full intimacy that my husband and I share, I see all three forms of intimacy. They do not necessarily lead to sex, but they are loving and ever-recurring intimate moments that help to build our relationship. And we experience intimacy in a much deeper way because we’ve made a lifelong commitment to each other. Our marriage bed is more than a place to sleep and have sex. It’s a place where we recommit to each other, every night.