This new post is part three in a series on marital intimacy. You can find part one (Why Don’t Couples Experience Intimacy Like They Desire?) and part two (The Most Foundational Aspect of Marital Intimacy) on my blog.
Today’s topic is emotional intimacy. The content below is an excerpt from my book Ready or Knot?. This is one of my favorite parts of the book and is a part of marriage rarely discussed. I’ll write an additional post about emotional intimacy next week.
The Nakedness Goes beyond No Clothes
I can’t even fathom the concept of being physically naked and not feeling shame. I’m embarrassed and insecure about the way I look. If you’re like almost every other person I’ve ever met, you probably struggle with some level of insecurity about your body and the way God made you as well. Most of us feel this way—body-image issues, comparison, and neglect of the body lead us to feel shame and to hide.
You might think you are too short, too tall, too big, or too little. Your curves are too wide or not wide enough. The possibilities are endless. And unfortunately, this extends far beyond just our physical appearance. Our entire lives are marked by shame, even when we’re fully clothed.
Genesis 2:25 says that Adam and Eve were without clothes yet felt no shame. This is a beautiful picture of what we can long for on earth and will ultimately experience in eternity. While it’s certainly true that the man and woman were physically naked, they were also emotionally naked. This meant they kept it real with one another and felt no shame. They communicated without insecurity. The woman expressed her feelings without wondering what her husband thought about her. The man didn’t judge her body, and neither of them had to compare themselves to anyone else.
Imagine the scene. The Garden of Eden was filled with beautiful colors, vegetation, and animals of every variety. In the middle of it all stood a naked man and a naked woman. They didn’t need to hide, and they were completely exposed and felt no shame. It was good and right!
I love the way my friend Dave Willis describes this scene:
The first picture of sex and marriage the Bible paints for us tells us that the couple was naked but felt no shame. This is a beautiful image of the vulnerability, trust, honesty, transparency and intimacy that should create a healthy foundation for every marriage. God wants a husband and wife to be “naked” physically, spiritually and emotionally with one another. When you have a “naked marriage” with no secrets and total vulnerability, you can experience perfect intimacy without shame or fear.
Then Genesis 3 comes along. The serpent deceived the man and woman, and they ate the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. Genesis 3:7 says, “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.” Everything changed in this moment. Adam and Eve went from naked without shame to hiding, covering, blaming, and selfishing (yes, it’s a made- up word, but you get the point). In that moment, emotional intimacy was lost.
But marriage calls us back to the Garden of Eden. Marriage is designed to create a safe place for a husband and wife to be exposed and without shame, and it is intended to be different from any other relationship. We mess this thing up big-time, and we pay the price. When couples hide, lie, and pretend in front of each other, it’s the exact opposite of the oneness God intends and we desire.
In the next post I’ll talk about how the Genesis 3 fall leads us to miss out on marital intimacy. When we live with shame we can’t know and be known without fear of rejection. In the next post I’ll talk about how you can experience emotional intimacy in marriage.
- What makes emotional intimacy so challenging for married couples?
- What does your spouse do that helps you experience emotional intimacy?
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