When you think of intimacy, what comes to mind?
Is it steamy bedroom romance or a nice talk with coffee outside on the patio? Do you think: "As long as I am getting my needs met, then I am happy"? Do we let Jesus shape how our mindset of intimacy or do we let the culture shape it?
To answer the first question, each spouse has their own love language, and if it is a healthy way in which they feel connected with their spouse, while also having a mind to want to love and serve them, this is an excellent place to foster true intimacy. One individual may prefer physical touch while the other may prefer a talk with coffee on the patio.
To answer the second questions, it must be noted that our culture, apart from God, would tell us that intimacy is “all about me getting my needs met” and “If you can’t meet my needs, or stop doing so, we are done”. However, this is not how Jesus views our needs or desire when it comes to intimacy in a marriage, or in general, when serving others. Our mindset should not be to get others to serve our needs first and foremost, but for us to say “God has gifted me to love and serve you”. (Galatians 5:13)
To address the third question, we can look to scripture. There are too many examples of what our mindset should be when it comes to putting other's needs before our own, however, I will highlight two. The first one can be found in Matthew 5: 38-42. Now you might read this and say, “Man, this is out of context, it’s talking about our enemies here”. I would agree that this passage is talking about our enemies but I do think it applies to our relationship in marriage. Consider this, if Jesus is commanding us to treat our enemies in such a lovely fashion then what sort of love does our spouse need to be shown? To take it one step further, consider the passage in John 13 where Jesus washes His disciple’s feet. Jesus (God) washes the feet of His sinful disciples, including one who absolutely hated Him, and betrayed Him shortly after this display of love and service. In all these instances, there was a mindset to lay aside personal needs and desires to serve someone else. If each spouse has this mindset, there will be a beautiful cycle of giving to give and not giving to get.
What would such intentional love do, not just for intimacy in marriage, but other areas of a marriage and family? What would it do for our communities? What would it do for the poor, the widows, children, or those treated unjustly? It would be transformative. It is transformative.