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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