Written with love, by Karley Kiker
Did anyone else grow up Southern Baptist? If so, you’ve probably heard the word "intimacy" used as a substitute for the word “sex” fairly frequently—especially in church circles. I get it. It’s a more polite, discreet sort of word that is 10 times easier to say in front of pastors and parents alike. But even though the two words go hand-in-hand, intimacy doesn’t always mean sex. Which is why today we’re starting a conversation about the non-sexual side of intimacy and talking about ways that we can continue to cultivate it after exchanging vows!
First, a little backstory. Around the age of 13 my parents taught me another definition of the word intimacy that I have never forgotten: into me you see. (If you say it really fast it even sounds like “intimacy” which makes the whole thing even cooler.) I love the picture this particular definition paints, especially because it puts into words exactly what I felt when I realized Taylor was “the one.”
Like I said in my first column, I began writing letters to my future husband in a little blue and white striped journal at age 14...and after just three days of conversation with Taylor I felt sure that one day it would belong to him. So sure, in fact, that I actually put those words down on paper and let the journal know that, finally, I had met its future owner.
I realize that probably makes me sound like I’m a girl who’s always been one Hallmark movie shy of nosediving into fantasyland. But the truth is that I took the faith-filled step to write those words in my journal not because of the overwhelming love I felt for Taylor—that hadn't fully formed yet—but because I felt to my core that Taylor had been given eyes to see me like my Heavenly Father does, and vice versa. I didn't have to pretend during our conversations. I didn't have to act. I didn't have to explain, or phrase things just the right way, or manipulate, or control, or present myself in the best possible light, or gloss over the ugly parts of myself or my story. I could be accepted and known and cared for just as I was…and I could rejoice in the new capacity growing within me to "love as [my Savior] first loved [me]." (1 John 4:19)
For the first time I had caught a glimpse of what into me you see really looks like...and I wanted more of it! Prior to marriage Taylor and I began to develop intimacy through five-hour long conversations on the phone (we dated long distance), sending notes and letters back and forth (I will forever treasure the Valentine I received with “50 things I love about you” handwritten on the back of the card), and dreaming (out loud and often) about our future together. And while I may have thought that continuing to foster intimacy after saying “I do” was going to be easy, in reality, it has demanded a good deal of intentionality.
I don’t have it all figured out yet—in fact, I’m not even close. But I’m learning more and more each day about what it looks like to continually pursue the heart of my spouse. Stay tuned for next week’s installment, where we’ll discuss four practical ways to cultivate intimacy in marriage!