By Stacey Tolbert
Scripture tells us to be zealous for the Lord with wholehearted devotion. Some definitions of zeal include being willing, energized and motivated. Marriage was designed to be a reflection of God’s zealous love for us. Do you have zeal for your husband and want to grow in physical intimacy?
4 Ways to Grow in Physical Intimacy
About ten years into our marriage, with four children under six, intimacy with my husband was not always a priority. I spent my days at home with my children, exhausted and often unshowered. I would not trade those days for anything, because they were spent teaching and modeling life and faith for our children.
However, many days of struggling with toddlers and comforting teething babies left my cup empty. When my husband came home from work, all I wanted to do was hand him a baby and lock myself in the bathroom.
Through honest conversations, my husband recognized how important it was for me to be recharged and appreciated. I also realized I was holding back intimacy with him, which prevented the closeness we both desired. After 23 years of marriage, these four principles have helped me to live with zeal for my husband, reflecting God’s love to one another.
- Find your worth in God.
Your husband cannot meet all of your needs and you cannot meet all of his. So first share your heart and emotions with the Lord and allow him to provide the guidance and strength you need. Then your husband can be your partner, supporting you through conflicts and challenges and celebrating successes with you. When you are zealous for God, your marriage will be a healthy reflection of that fact.
- Say yes as often as you can.
First Corinthians 7:4-5 says, “The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.”(NIV)
As a wife and mother, sexual intimacy may often not be something you desire. You may feel tired, insecure, or overstimulated. But, saying yes as often as you can will be a ministry to your husband and to you as well. When you feel unloved, you may not want to be intimate, but sometimes this can draw you closer and bring healing or forgiveness.
Note: This is not to be abused, and if anyone experiences this in marriage, you should not feel guilty or unfaithful when you choose to say no. Reaching out to a counselor on this issue is important too. Also, check out our three interviews with author Sheila Wray Gregoire, here, here, and here!
- Set boundaries in other relationships to protect your marriage.
There is a balance between making time for yourself as a mom and wife, versus making yourself the priority. Set boundaries with how much time you give to your girlfriends, your mom, sister, and even your kids to reserve zeal for your husband.
Make time for your husband even as you make time for others. Protect your marriage from relationships with the opposite sex. If you are sharing more of your heart with another man than with your husband or spending more alone time with another man, you might be in the danger zone.
- Love with action.
The popular Love Dare challenge came out in 2008, inspiring the movie, “Fireproof.” My husband and I took this 40-day challenge seeking to demonstrate unconditional love for one another, without any strings attached.
We discovered that when we seek to show love through action and believe the best about each other, love and zeal for one another grows. We sought to love in the little everyday moments, like my husband starting my car for me, or writing him love notes and bringing him coffee.
As you make choices to love your husband in these ways as you are zealous for him, his heart will soften and you will experience greater intimacy and emotional connection.
Wife Step: Consider one of these four ways to be zealous and grow in intimacy. What is one way that you can say yes more, love with action, set boundaries or give your heart to God more?
Stacey Tolbert is a writer, Director of Engagement, and women’s ministry leader at the church her husband pastors in Northwest Ohio. Stacey and her husband have been serving in ministry together for over 20 years. Stacey has journeyed from college ministry to being a stay-at-home mom to their four children, to full-time teaching, and finally following the call to share her gifts through writing and ministry. Her heart is to help women discover their greatest potential, as they learn to embrace their God-given gifts, both in marriage and in life.