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Intimacy is the absence of distance. It begins in our relationship with God, then overflows into our marriage and relationships.

We are not meant to just manage our lives, or simply function in our families. We are meant to build deep, meaningful, and lasting emotional connections. This is what God desires most for us and with us! We need to learn how to defeat distance and get past just functioning in our relationship with God, marriage and families by developing intimacy.

Intimacy begins with listening to God

 Yes. What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us?

Deuteronomy 4:7 (MSG)

Erwin Raphael McManus writes eloquently about intimacy and love:

“We are most alive when we find it, most devastated when we lose it, most empty when we give up on it, most inhuman when we betray it, and most passionate when we pursue it.”

Listening builds intimacy. God listens to us, and the Bible says that builds our intimacy with him. So if we don’t make efforts to listen to God, we will lose our intimacy with him. This same attitude and disregard for listening to God to be influenced by him will also be reflected in our marriage. Building intimacy begins with a choice to humbly listen rather than insisting on being heard.

Intimacy = “In to Me See” Vulnerability

23 Look through me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. 24 See if there is any sinful way in me and lead me in the way that lasts forever.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLV)

Overcoming the fear of being known is essential to building intimacy. This begins with having conversations where we want our hearts and thoughts to be seen. Do we expect our husbands to know more about us than we take initiative to reveal? Sometimes we get frustrated that our spouse is not reading between the lines instead of taking responsibility for our lack of transparency.

As a fun exercise, pick which popular song best describes the quality and depth of conversations with your husband:

  • You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling
  • Strangers in the Night
  • Since You’ve Been Gone
  • Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting
  • I’ll Be There

Intimacy begins with the attitude of “In to Me See” in our approach to relationships. It’s prioritizing vulnerability above all else.

To learn more about how God says to build intimacy, let’s look at the Bible’s first couple, Adam and Eve.

1) God’s Plan: Honesty Is Intimacy

[15] The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.[20] So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. [21] So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. [22] Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. [23] The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man. ” [24] That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. [25] Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Genesis 2:15, 20-25 NIV

God’s plan in marriage is to enjoy a shame-free relationship that is absent of distance. Shame accompanies guilt from personal sin, and is focused more on how we appear before others, rather than how much we’re taking action to love others.

Is there anything that you are ashamed to talk with God about?
Is there anything that you are ashamed to talk with your husband about?

The Scripture above shows us God’s plan for intimacy in marriage. It is characterized by the absence of shame and selfishness, and intimate because of the presence of God and his purpose for them together.

2) God-Attachment: Disengagement Destroys

[1] Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? ” [2] The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, [3] but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” [4] “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. [5] “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [6] When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Genesis 3:1-6 NIV

When Eve had her fateful conversation with the crafty serpent, we hardly notice that Adam was there. Whether he was listening or observing we do not know, but we do know he was physically there. The Scripture above details how “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Where was Adam? Physically he was with his wife, but his spiritual location is not so evident. It was his spiritual location that put his wife at risk; after all, the original conversation about the ‘guidelines for the garden’ was between Adam and God.

The craftiness of the serpent was a significant threat to Eve. Without question the ‘smooth and manipulative’ tongue of Satan made it difficult for her to easily discern the truth. Certainly the temptation to ‘know’ something that she wasn’t supposed to know was seductive. In the end, none of these things put Eve at risk. Her husband being disengaged, disinterested, or otherwise preoccupied was what took her down.

Are there any ways you have found yourself disengaged from your spouse? Prioritizing other things or other relationships? Letting them go, being uninterested in their burdens or temptations? Detaching from our spouse is one of the biggest ways we create distance in our marriages. On the other hand, attaching to God and listening to what he says in the Bible will help us build intimacy with our spouse.

3) God-Awareness: Overcoming Bitterness with Love

[7] Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. [8] Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. [9] But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” [10] He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” [11] And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from? ” [12] The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:7-11 NIV

Although Adam and Eve were both unaware of the disconnection they would experience in their marriage from being disobedient, God calls to the husband first; Adam distanced himself from his wife and from God, because he didn’t want to take any responsibility, but wanted to blame: Blame Eve, Blame God!

As a wife, it is easier for me to become self-righteous, bitter and blame my husband for “leading us” into a less than intimate and spiritually healthy condition with God. Maybe you can relate. However, when your marriage is distant, how easy is to for you to take responsibility for your own sins?

How does your bitterness and self righteousness hurt your marriage? Eve didn’t take responsibility either, and found no difficulty in blaming the serpent. We can never blame other people outside of our marriage for the lack of intimacy in our marriage.

So how do you defeat distance? Here are 3 conversations to have with God and your husband to build intimacy:

  1. Spiritual Awareness: “Where Are You?” in Bible Study & Prayer Life? (Gen. 3:9 NIV) This was a relational question – God was pursuing them, was interested, concerned, wanted to know them. God knew exactly where Adam & Eve were at physically, but he was interested in where they were at emotionally and spiritually! This is a question that when we’re asked, makes us have to stop and question: “Where am I” – How did I get here? This is a question that focuses on the facts rather than our emotions!
  2. Marriage Awareness: What sins do my wife and I both tolerate and ignore with each other?
  3.  Purpose Awareness: What’s our priority and attitude when it comes to fulfilling God’s purpose for us – to change the world?

Written by

Amy Kim

Amy Kim is on the ministry staff at the Bay Area Christian Church, and a contributing writer for BACC.