Over the past several years, I have spoken and taught thousands of couples about the importance of growing their marriage into the purpose for which it was designed. I have challenged them to embrace their differences as integral to their destiny. I have encouraged couples to resist the marital drift that will rob them of their vitality as a couple. And, I have done my best to push couples to believe that godly obedience would yield benefits in all facets of their marriage—including their intimacy. But, this past weekend I got a new revelation on marital intimacy. I call it Marital Intimacy 2.0. And, I think it may change everything inside and outside my bedroom.
So, let me first make it clear that I have a great marriage. And, I tremendously enjoy my intimate times with my wife. She has been a amazing partner over our nearly twenty-seven years of marriage. We make ourselves available for each other. We seek to please each other’s intimacy needs—though honestly I feel she sometimes does that better than I do. But, that’s another story. The key point here is that I feel very blessed with what happens in our bedroom.
One of the life lessons that we learn as early as kindergarten is the importance of sharing and compromise. While most young children have a very self-centered perspective, the process of teaching them to be more considerate of others around them is understandably seen as a key developmental task. The adage goes that having good interpersonal relationships is about 50-50, meeting others “halfway”. Your responsibility is to do your part and expect the other party to reciprocate in kind. Makes perfect sense—until you grow up.
Relationships are a struggle—especially intimate ones. While they can elevate our feelings to mountaintop experiences they can also plummet them into undesirable lows. There are many reasons for the ups and downs in intimate relationships. But, clearly one is what I call the 50-50 trap.
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Featured Presentation: How to Breath Life Into Your Marriage
“Lazarus, come forth.” These powerful words of Jesus (John 11:43) resonate in my heart as I consider the state of our Christian marriages. While there are clearly many God-honoring marriages, the sad reality is that a staggering number of marriages in the church are in fact dying or already “dead”—bound in grave clothes of selfishness, deception, and unforgiveness. These lifeless marriages, occupying both the pulpit and the pew, highlight an unprecedented level of emotional detachment in the very relationships intended to mirror God’s unconditional love us. Each of us must consider how to recognize and recover when we are experiencing such a crisis in our own marriage.
I spend a lot of time thinking about marriage—my own marriage, other people’s marriages, and cultural attitudes about marriage. I’ve learned many things on this journey. But, I’ve reached one conclusion that may sound odd possibly even startling. Marriage is NOT about love.
As it pertains to marriage, maybe Tina Turner’s song title “ What’s Love Got to Do With It?” captures the point best. The answer as it pertains to marriage is mostly “very little”.
Many centuries ago, Virgil, the greatest Roman poet wrote “Love conquers all things, so we too shall yield to love.” Was Virgil ever married? Nope.
My wife and I speak around the country on growing a successful marriage using my Marriage ROCKS model. I’ve read countless books on the topic of marriage. I’ve counseled many couples on how to move their marriages to a better level. My wife and I lead the marriage enrichment ministry at the local church that we attend. I’ve lead national marriage initiatives. I speak to community marriage initiatives—as I’ll be doing later this month in Atlanta. So, for me, there is no question that helping married couples discover one another and God in their relationship is part of my DNA.
Here’s how the process unfolds…
Two people fall in love. The romantic fervor is intoxicating. They feel awesome—on top of the world. Their bond is inseparable, at least that’s how they feel. They want to experience that forever. At some point, many of these couples decide that they should marry and spend the rest of their lives together to have nonstop access to this fountain of bliss.
It all sounds so good until…