Where True Intimacy Starts in Marriage

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This issue goes to the core of us. We stop at the outward appearance and don't look any further.

God does not look on the outward appearance but on the heart.2 If God's focus is on our heart, shouldn't ours be as well?

In essence, my outward appearance did reflect how I felt about myself. I wasn't sure I was worth all the energy it was going to take to get healthy. When I changed that negative mindset to a positive, things begin to change on the inside and spread to the outside of me.

Having this kind of change both internal and external helped me finally move toward true intimacy with my husband. That meant risking revealing my wants and needs. I didn't know it at the time, but my emotional vulnerability laid the foundation for true intimacy to grow.

In the past, if my husband had a long day at work and was tired, went to bed, turned off the light, rolled over and began to snore, I took it as a rejection of me. It would set up the cycle of thinking I was inadequate because of my weight, which would escalate into me taking inventory of all of my inadequacies.

Wait! Could it really be as simple as he was just tired?

We have come a long way since then to the point we reveal our wants and needs to each other.

We share the simple acknowledgment that it's been a long day, but tomorrow can start early. We know, really know, our love is a commitment we both embrace fully. We are more bonded because of honest communication and total acceptance.

Sex is an act that most any two adults can perform. Intimacy is in a totally different category. Intimacy combines the emotional and spiritual act of love with the physical, taking things to an entirely new level. It's not about an "act." It is all about a relationship.

I have been happily married for 37 years, but I have been enormously satisfied for the last five years. Yes, part of it was because I finally surrendered my food addiction to God and began the healthy-living journey.

I stopped trying to be perfect and finally began to feel comfortable in my own skin. It is so true that love is blind, at least to the physical aspects. Love, however, is not blind to emotional barriers that keep us at arm's length from our mate. They know it. They feel it.

It's not within them, though; we always focus there first. And it's not with our exterior, though that's the next place we look.

It's inside us, maybe buried so deep we are afraid to search for it.

The walls I erected for protection went up in part because of some negative experiences with men and boys in my childhood. When I handed these excuses to God, He gave me joy in return. And the walls crumbled.

Walls can't stand in the face of joy. It's just not possible.

Truth hit me strongly: My husband has always loved me. If something happened tomorrow and our relationship ended, I would be the better for having loved full out, for having given him access to every hidden part of me, especially those difficult emotional parts. It was this realization that became the basis for opening up, being real, connecting deeper.

I began with trepidation to reach out, heart in hand, feeling very, very fragile and way too revealed. He responded with care and love in a way that sent our relationship to new levels.

Would it have happened if I hadn't lost weight? Probably not. The emotional barriers and weight gain were so intertwined it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended. The reality is, when I was willing to remove the covering of shame, guilt, anger and frustration and reject the lie that God won't take care of me, any fear of intimacy vanished.

I know I am loved, but more than that I know I am worthy of being loved.

When I was writing Sweet Grace, I asked my husband what has changed since I lost weight? He answered, "I can get closer to you—physically, emotionally and spiritually." I so love that answer.

I was listening to an inner-healing session where the coach asked the woman how she felt after giving some things to God. She said, "I feel much lighter. I feel like I've lost hundreds of pounds of weight."

I have lost 260 pounds of physical weight and tons of emotional baggage. I have gained true intimacy.

I pray similar miracles happen for you when you begin to love yourself as God loves you.

How can you make that happen?

1 Mark 12:30-31 NLT

2 1 Samuel 16:7

Teresa Shields Parker is an author, blogger, editor, business owner, wife and mother. Her book, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor is available on Amazon in print, Kindle and Audible HERE. This story is from her blog, teresashieldsparker.com.

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