People often wed while they are in the honeymoon stage of their relationship, thus they have never worked through the grid of their relationship when all those euphoric feelings are missing.

Also, most men are clueless in regards to the state of their relationship with their spouse. A few years after I was married, someone once asked me how my marriage was and I said great, not knowing that my marriage was in trouble because my wife was feeling alienated from me emotionally.

If leaders would just learn to properly prioritize their marriage and family, focusing properly on what matters most, then all the other things they desire for significance will manifest in their proper time!

I once heard Harold Bredesen say something to the effect of: “If I just focus on pleasing the Lord, then everyone He wants me to please will be pleased anyway.”

Someone else once said: “If you put first things first, then what you put second won’t be hurt anyway.

The following are keys to maintaining intimacy with your spouse:

1. Intimacy Means Different Things to Each Sex
a. Men: It means physical intimacy.

b. Women: It means emotional intimacy.

c. Both men and women need emotional intimacy, but the men seem to be able to press forward oblivious to the fact that there is a lack in the area of emotional connection.

d. Women in general have very little sex drive; their real desire is to feel vulnerable, transparent, and intimate with their husbands. (Desire for sex is determined by a person’s testosterone level. Women have a very low level of testosterone.) Their desire to share their physical body is commensurate to their willingness to share their heart with that special someone.

2. The Key to Intimacy: Create a Safe Haven
a. Create a safe haven in the relationship. Allow your spouse the liberty to make mistakes or say things without rendering an immediate judgment (she needs to know she can vent or make mistakes or even sin without you instantly coming down on her).

3. Make Her Part of Your Whole Life and Vocation
a. My wife would constantly tell me that I am not spending time with her and it would confuse me because at that time we usually had dinner together one night per week, and I was frequently home five nights per week, etc. But I didn’t realize that my wife felt my focus was not with her fully when I was with her. Thus, just being together in body didn’t necessarily make her feel like she had the attention and focus of my heart.

b. Don’t compartmentalize in regards to her. Scheduling time in my blackberry to be at home or take out my wife for dinner once per week didn’t matter to her when she called me during the workday and I answered the phone less than happy. It was obvious to her that she was annoying me because she was intruding and distracting me from my work. She was not a part of my world, or part of my work schedule.

4. Answer Her Feelings, Not Her Words
a. Men usually are more logical and technical, and will dissect their wives’ words which frustrates them and make things worse.

b. The core issue is usually never on the surface. You need to understand the underlying reason for the frustrating tone of her voice and speak to that, not just going “tit for tat” based on her words. Jesus rarely answered people’s questions directly; He always dealt with their motives and/or true feelings.

5. Follow the E.V.E. Acronym
a. Echo
i. Repeat what your spouse says to let them know you are listening to them.

b. Validate
i. Show your spouse that what they said to you was important to you and not trivial.

c. Empathize
i. Show them that you understand why they feel the way they do. When someone is very upset then empathy should be the first thing you show in order to calm them down and get them to a good place for a less heated discussion.
ii. Many men see life’s issues only in black and white and have as their major goal to win an argument and be “right,” whereas a wife’s main concern is to feel secure in the fact that her husband understands her.

6. Understand Your Dysfunction/Fear
a. Deal with the real issues causing friction between you and your spouse.

b. There is usually a latent fear you have that is touched when you react negatively to your spouse (insecurity, control, fear of failure, abandonment, inferiority, disrespect, isolated, fear of pain).

c. Get to the root issues of your fears and deal with them so that they are not on the table when you are dealing with your spouse.

7. A Man Sets the Trend for His Spouse’s Emotional State

a. The wife is the receiver in the relationship; the husband is the initiator.

b. When a woman is depressed it can be a sign that her relationship with her husband is not what she needs. Often a woman can’t help how she feels emotionally because of the way her husband is treating her!

c. She is more fulfilled in her relationship with her husband, while the husband is more fulfilled in what he accomplishes and the tasks he is involved with. A man gets his feeling of satisfaction more from doing a significant task, while a woman generally receives most of her satisfaction from her relationships, especially with her husband and children.

8. You Need to be Responsible for Yourself First
a. Don’t play the blame game.

b. Don’t wait for your spouse to change before you reach out to her and love her.

c. We can’t change our spouse; leave that up to God (trying to change your spouse will frustrate you and your spouse).

9. Live a Life of Continual Self-Renewal
a. Spend time with the Lord so you are always filled with the love of God (Romans 5:5).

b. You cannot love your spouse the correct way without God’s agape power (1 John 4:7-8).

10. Live a Life of Forgiveness
a. You cannot forgive your spouse if you don’t forgive yourself. Matthew 22 teaches us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

b. Do not hold onto unforgiveness--it leads to a formula of resentment and bitterness/torment.

c. Statistics tell us that those who get divorced and remarry have a high percentage of getting divorced a second time. The main reason for this is because folks generally rebound and run into another relationship before they deal with past hurts/pains, thus bringing baggage into the new relationship. For example, Brittney Spears is only 25 and already working on her second divorce. Just a few days after her divorce was announced she was spotted with another “young hunk”!

Suggested Reading:
Discovering the Mind of a Woman by Ken Nair
The DNA of Relationships by Gary Smalley
Safe Haven Marriage by Archibald D. Hart and Sharon Hart Morris

Joseph Mattera