Perhaps the biggest shock for many of us after we are married is the loneliness that can pervade a house filled with people. We may be prepared for boredom with our spouse. We may successfully fight off the temptation of an affair. But we are surprised by how lonely it can be to be married. Judy discovered this early in our marriage when I was going to school, working full-time, and leading several Bible studies. She discovered how real life can interfere with marital romance and intimacy:
“I knew he was doing the right thing, and he had certainly turned his life around. Jerry had a dramatic conversion experience, and finding God had changed him profoundly. He was in Bible college now. He was leading Bible studies on the weekends, and working full-time to pay the bills. I never saw him. We had two boys who missed their daddy, but even more I missed him. I needed him, and he was always gone.
“I thought that everything he was doing was important. And I didn’t dare argue with him about those things. After all, how can you argue with the call of God on someone’s life? But I was alone in my home while Jerry was busy, and his busyness was hurting our marriage. Where intimacy had lived, emptiness now reigned. Every good thing was happening, but I was alone.”
Real Life Can Separate You Emotionally
Judy’s feelings are echoed in my office every day. Men and women are in houses filled with people but are living alone. When intimacy and romance dies, we are lonely and afraid. And we’ll look anywhere to have that need met.
It’s intimacy that most of us lack when we say we don’t feel anything for our partners. It’s also what many of us crave when we go outside of our marriage to have our needs met. Intimacy is what we desire when we say I do. And the lack of it drives many couples to say I don’t anymore.
Most of us start out our marriages with a reasonable level of intimacy and romance. But somewhere along the way we lose touch, and we drift apart. Not usually in a dramatic fashion, but slowly we begin to go our separate ways until one day we wake up next to a stranger.
None of us sets out in our marriages to destroy romance and intimacy. We all want a fulfilling, life-giving relationship that brings joy and satisfaction to both partners. Yet somehow along the way we begin to criticize each other. We stop trusting and start withdrawing. We begin telling little lies. And somewhere along the way we forget that the other person comes first. Instead, our way, our desires, and our selfishness begins to take over. Intimacy dies, we are lonely and wonder what to do.
The Killer of Intimacy is Real Life
Obviously, the first step is to look hard at the way we interact and to root out, to the greatest extent possible, the intimacy busters present in our relationship. That is the first step. But often the killer of intimacy is real life. Remember your honeymoon. Remember how close you felt to your partner. How the time you were together seemed to be so perfect. That is because real life didn’t intrude.
In real life we all work hard. In real life the kids keep us jumping. And in real life we get bored and angry and hurt over little things. So the greatest thing you can do to build romance and intimacy into your marriage is to spend time with your partner. Learn about each other again, not letting yourselves drift apart. Grow together, learn new skills together, and see new movies. Eat new foods, and carve out time where for a little while real life doesn’t intrude.
Intimacy, while maybe never becoming what you and I wish it would be, can grow. Realize that in the ebb and flow of life it will fade for a while but then it can come back in a different, richer way. Be patient, and BE PROACTIVE in pursuing it. Don’t quit, and don’t run away from your marriage. Stay there and pursue the intimacy Christ wants for both of you as husband and wife.
This article (plus many more enriching insights) can be found in the book, WHEN PRINCE CHARMING FALLS OFF HIS HORSE… Keeping the Happily Ever After In Your Marriage by Jerry and Judy Schreur published by Chariot Victor Publishing. In this book the authors, with hope, humor, and wisdom, do a great job of analyzing problems and offering helpful, Bible-based solutions. When Prince Charming Falls Off His Horse is the culmination of over 40 years of marriage and 32 years of counseling—and is honest, unflinchingly realistic, and most of all a loving celebration of married life. (Plus… it’s a really good book to read. We recommend it highly!)
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7 responses to “REAL LIFE: A Real Killer of Romance and Intimacy”
(UGANDA) Thank you for that article and what you have written is so true. I am a working lady just married and also just started out on a new career that really needs a lot of my attention. I am always away from home in the rural areas doing development work and have to leave my husband at home. But recently I thought that being without him for five days every week was going to get us into problems so I have decided to devise means of having some weeks at home. Before I got the job I had him. I don’t want to lose him just like that. I just pray that the Lord helps me out with my efforts.
(UNITED STATES) I am almost finished reading this book. I have been married 20+ years and purchased this book about 15 years ago. I have a hard time finishing books and this one was no different. It is not because of the book, that is just who I am. I put too much on my plate when it comes to reading. Now almost 15 years later, I began again to read this book and I feel that God brought it back to my attention for “such a time as this.” I have been struggling with my marriage and this book has really helped me to see that some of the struggles I face have been pretty normal.
I am trying to recover from having an affair on my husband. I never in a million years would have thought I would do what I did. However, I have asked for forgiveness from God and am trying to not have any contact with the person I had the affair with. The problem I am having right now is more on an emotional level. I am extremely depressed and feel so empty. I really don’t want to go back on anti-depressants but may need to consider that just to cope.
In addition to the fact that I sinned, the person I sinned with may have cancer and therefore is dying. The affair just compounded a problem that was already there, and now that this person is sick with something fatal, that just complicates things even more. Emotionally I feel that I need some coping strategies to be able to recover from this and begin on my marriage again. I realize it may not be realistic to ever have the feelings for my husband that I had for this other person since we have been married so long, but it sure would be nice. Thanks for letting me share.
(US) To the last commenter, You should be ashamed of yourself!!! You need to tell your husband and be truthful. That’s the only way things will ever get better. How dare you, after 15 years of marriage? Do you have children? I hope not. Be prepared for him to not want to go on. Tell him and if you are lucky maybe he will forgive your selfishness. Good luck …(to him).
(AUSTRALIA) To Sal, is it right that you should take it upon yourself to be so judgmental? Christ himself said “judge not, lest you be judged.” All sin is equal in God’s sight, and while what Valerie has done was not right, in God’s eyes it was no worse than your own sins. Valerie has sought God’s forgiveness for her mistake and is genuinely trying to put things right. Also, she has had the courage to share her mistake openly so that others might learn from it and not make the same mistake. Is it therefore right that you should usurp the role of harsh attacker because she has done so?
God has forgiven her, and so should you. And while you are about it, perhaps you should seek God’s forgiveness for your own sin of trying to cause hurt.
How she deals with the future of her relationship is really none of your concern: it is a matter between herself, her husband and God. If her husband truly loves her, then with God’s help, they will get through this time of trial.
(USA) Sal–You should be ashamed of yourself for such a comment. We all have done things that we are not proud of, I am sure that you have too. This person came here for hope, prayer, forgiveness and most of all understanding. Your comment made me feel sick. This is not the place for such evilness. Please think about your own selfishness before commenting again. Good luck to all.
(CAMEROON) Wow, this is great! I could not have known that real life could be the real problem in my marriage. I got so busy that I did not have time with my wife. My love to keep her happy and provide for her needs and even her wants, almost cost me our marriage.
It is not easy to have an extra marital affair but I guess circumstances like that empty feeling and other factors can lead you to have one. Sal, you are a real woman for you to talk about it like this and you need to find a way of solving this problem. Will pray that God provides a solution to your problem.
I am also in a relationship. I feel empty in a house full of people. My spouse is ever busy with his friends both male and female and we never have time together. A frustrated person can do anything but I thank God that to date I have not done something out of the norm although at times the temptation is there. God is with me and I should pray harder to overcome the devil so that my marriage will be what I want or God wants it to be. Be blessed.