The 3 Types of Intimacy Every Marriage Needs to Thrive


What exactly is intimacy? When we look at the true definition, everything surrounding intimacy deals with closeness to another person: closeness of contact, friendship, warmth, and familiarity.

This is intimacy and there is no human being on the planet with whom you will share the same level of intimacy than the one you vowed to spend the rest of your life with. But this kind of closeness comes in different forms. If you truly desire for your marriage to thrive, growing in these three types of intimacy will give you a great head start.

Type 1: Sexual Intimacy

First let me say that sex isn’t the only type of intimacy, and it is a problem when we start confusing the two. But it is one of the ways that you experience intimacy with your spouse. Opinions vary on the level of intimacy that sex includes, but if we look at the common words in the definition—personal, private, contact—there is something inherently intimate about being that close to another human being.

It’s one of the reasons why sex is supposed to be reserved for our spouses and only our spouses, because there is no one else in the world who can know you that intimately.

Even if we understand our own relationship to our faith and enjoy our own intimate relationship with God, we often think of our spiritual paths as personal and separate from one other.

Just as intimacy can lead to sex, sex can lead to intimacy. The intimacy cycle is important for both partners, but the connection between the two can be different for men and women. “Many men can’t feel intimate with their partner unless their sex life is satisfying, but many women can’t enjoy sex without intimacy. For men, sex feeds intimacy, and for women, intimacy feeds sex.” [Excerpt from Real Sex for Real Women by Dr. Laura Berman]

Sex can be both an intimacy barometer and an intimacy igniter. If its lacking, it may be an indicator that another one of your intimacy areas is lacking, but if its lacking, it also means that you aren’t connecting physically, making that disconnect grow greater.

Sex (or lack thereof) is one of the cornerstones in the intimacy cycle. If you’ve got lots of intimacy, you’ve got lots of sex, and therefore lots of intimacy. If you’ve got no intimacy, you’ve got less sex, and therefore less intimacy. It’s up to you to decide where in that cycle you want to be!

Type 2: Emotional Intimacy

Emotional intimacy is how close you feel emotionally to your spouse. It speaks to the type of connection that you share with one another, the non-sexual affection that you show, and how you communicate, openly and honestly. In its simplest terms, emotional intimacy speaks to the friendship that you share with your husband or your wife.

Being a true friend to your spouse can be just as, if not more, important as being his or her lover. A true friend is someone you can trust with your deepest secrets and innermost thoughts. A true friend is someone you can expect to always have your back. A friend is someone whom you can look toward for encouragement and acceptance.


Last, but certainly not least, a friend is someone you can have fun with and simply enjoy being around. You may share a certain level of emotional intimacy with a number of people in your life, but the intimacy you share with the one you come home to, wake up with in the morning and sleep with every night, should be unmatched.

Type 3: Spiritual Intimacy

Most couples can get a firm grasp on sexual intimacy. Few people would argue that sex is completely unimportant to a marriage. Most folks can also understand the concept of emotional intimacy. They understand that love and marriage isn’t only about sex, otherwise there would be little need for the “marriage” part of the equation. We understand that old-school saying “homey-lover-friends.”

Spiritual intimacy is a little more complex and a lot less understood. Even if we understand our own relationship to our faith and enjoy our own intimate relationship with God, we often think of our spiritual paths as personal and separate from one other.

Understanding spiritual intimacy is understanding that in a marriage those separate paths do intertwine. Simply put, spiritual intimacy is about knowing how to connect with your spouse through your faith. It is about using your belief systems to draw closer to one another.

According to Dr. Dwayne Buckingham, relationship expert and founder of the company, R.E.A.L Horizons, LLC, spiritual intimacy goes beyond even your shared religious beliefs. “Spiritual intimacy is not just religion,” he says. “It is a shared meaning and purpose behind your relationship.” Spiritual intimacy unites you as a couple around one shared vision for your lives and partnership that you can build your marriage around.

A healthy marriage will unite all of these areas of intimacy. A healthy marriage ties together the sexual, the emotional, and the spiritual like no other, making the relationship unique to the others you may have. By embracing and implementing all three, your marriage will grow in leaps and bounds and thrive for years to come.

BMWK, are you ready to see your marriage thrive?

About the author

Aja Dorsey Jackson wrote 207 articles on this blog.

Aja Dorsey Jackson is a freelance writer and marriage educator in Baltimore, Maryland and author of the blog and book, Making Love in the Microwave.

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