Tools for Building an Intimate Marriage

Written by Gail Rodgers


Is Porn Damaging Your Marraige? Read “Hardcore Betrayal.”

Sharon and her husband built the garage and decided to live there until the house was constructed. Five years later, they were still in the garage. The house plans still took a prominent place on the wall… but life was busy. They hadn’t planned to let construction slip…it had just happened as the busyness of day-to-day took center stage. They were fairly comfortable for the moment…but building had stopped.

Building a marriage is much like building a home. You put deliberate plans in place and then you actively pursue the construction. Day-to-day busyness must be guarded against and the building must be conscious. When building stops, status quo settles in. Having a deliberate eye on construction can keep building fun and productive.

The marriage relationship is the highest of all human relationships. It can be a complete sharing of heart and soul, mind and body, or it can be simply a living arrangement of co-existence. Most marriages are somewhere in between. Any marriage can benefit from implementing some new or re-sharpened tools to move deliberately in building into a growing relationship.

Here are five practical and positive tools to use in building your marriage.

1. The team tool

Remember you are a team. When two team members forget they are on the same team and begin to compete with each other, no one wins. Marriage is not about winning; it is about pulling together in the same direction. Stop for a moment and look honestly at yourself. Do you need to win every argument or be right about some insignificant disagreement?

Maybe he is the one with that need to be right. Remember you are on the same team. In things that don’t matter, drop it. In things that do, plan for a time out and set a date to re-visit the issue. Verbalize the fact that you are a team. Bring in a third party if you repeatedly stalemate on one issue. Think in terms of “I choose us.”

2. The response tool

Don’t react; respond! Your reactions actually tell more about you than your actions do! Take time to think before you just react! Evaluate why you react in certain ways and plan ahead of time what you are going to do next time it happens. Know what your buttons are…do you react negatively if he is late getting home and didn’t call? What situations do you find yourself reacting in? Choose to be conscious of the “I choose us” frame of mind and think about your reactions. Many couples get on a merry-go-round of reactions and find themselves in a hostile environment neither of them wants. Choose to respond instead!

3.  The blessing tool

Give a blessing today! In the book The Blessing, Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent describe the deliberate practice of expressing honor and devotion to other people. It’s actually a practice with deep biblical roots. Many marriage partners have come to this special relationship without ever having received honor or devotion. Sometimes they come with trust issues because these things were not a part of their heritage.

Begin today to put words of honor and devotion into your partner’s heart. Speak truth from your heart. Let him know what you appreciate about him. Affirm his positive traits. “You give such attention to detail.” or “Your boss knows he can depend on you.” If you have to stretch a long way to find something, start where you can. It may be something like, “I appreciate how you provide for our family. Thank you.”  Or “Maggie really needed you to see that test she did so well in. Thanks for taking time to listen to her.”

For some, this tool will be easy to use. For others it will feel awkward and hard to put to use. If you draw a blank in finding words of affirmation begin to watch carefully for the little things you can affirm. Ask God, who sees the best in all of us, to reveal to your heart some positive qualities you can affirm.

4.  The sharing tool

Share as much of life as possible! Share your time, share your thoughts, share your interests, and share his interests. This is a tool that must be deliberately engaged or life will push it aside. Time spent together doing things affords a connection opportunity. History together is built one event at a time. Make sure you are inputting positive events that build a positive archive. Plan dates. A movie night, dinner out, or even a coffee date is a good way to keep sharing alive!

If life has crowed the sharing out of your relationship, be deliberate in building it back in. Start small, share a certain TV program and sit beside him. Share a cup of coffee or a glass of lemonade for a couple of minutes in the middle of a task he is doing. Even cleaning the garage or basement together can connect you. Reminisce briefly now and then. “This old bike brings back memories of those good times we had biking that summer before we moved.”  Share your time. Go with him to look at a car or take a trip to Home Depot. Begin to share your thoughts.

5. The contact tool

Make daily contact! It is entirely possible to live with someone and not make any or very little contact. Contact is an excellent building tool and you can use it in a variety of ways. Each day try to connect in one way, whether emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually. Think about it and try to be deliberate. Some construction tools look overwhelming, yet when you know how to use them they are extremely valuable in the building project.

  • Emotionally – Share a thought that goes beyond picking up milk or confirming the time of an appointment. Use “I feel…” comments.
    • Offer support emotionally. “You’ve had a lot of pressure lately. Why don’t you sleep in a bit Saturday?” “I know we are in a financial crunch right now, but we’ll do what we have to do and together we’ll get through it.”
    • Encourage in any way you can. Remember that communication is only seven percent words we speak and the rest is our tone and body language. Tone and body language are the emotional language we speak.
  • Mentally – Connect by sharing a newspaper article you read, a news commentator you listened to or from a book you are reading. Ask him his opinions and listen to them. Share a story from your day or ask a question about something that interests him.
  • Physically – Give lots of non-sexual touching such as a quick hug, a hand on the arm, a pat on the hand or the back. Touching says “I care” and touch is one of our basic human needs. If all touching has become a signal for sex, touch on the way out the door, touch casually, touch in passing.Do make time for the sexual contact as well. Plan for it. Dwell on the good things about your husband. Have a relaxing bath, get out a candle and surprise him with a sense of pleasure at being together.
  • Spiritually – Many couples never share on this level even if they share the same faith. Spiritual sharing gives a third dimension to a relationship. Share a thought or a reading that inspired you. Take time to pray for him. Let him know you are praying for him. Pray together if possible.

Endeavor to connect regularly on all levels.

But what about me?

These tools all focus on you as the builder. It is more important to be the right partner than to have the right partner. You can only change you. You cannot change your partner; you can only change how you relate to him.

But what if your emotional and spiritual gage is on empty? What if you need someone to build into you?

Plain and simply, the answer is God!  No, don’t stop reading…it’s true and it is a very practical thing you can experience. God loves you. He has only your best in mind. He waits for you to invite Him to share the journey of life with you. When you open your heart to receive His love and forgiveness for living your life your own way, He comes in and begins to build into you so you, in turn, can build into others. Invite God into your life; invite him into your marriage. He is the well from which you can draw. Ask Him to give you insight into your husband. Ask Him to give you a loving and responsive heart. Ask Him to give you strength and wisdom. Ask Him for words that build up and bless. Ask Him for patience. He created you and He created marriage. He is the master builder and the one that is truly qualified to help you use these tools.

On your own you can find a measure of success in applying these tools. But God holds the manual and, when invited, He can enhance your life and your marriage in ways you never imagined. Why not invite Him now?

Father God,

Thank You that You care about me and that You actually desire to walk with me through life. That amazes me!  I open my heart to You right now and accept Your love and forgiveness. Help me to understand how You love me. Help me to come to You and Your deep well of resources every day. God, I don’t fully understand how You work in my life, but I ask You to teach me. Give me the patience and the insight to build my marriage stronger. Thank You for my husband. Bless him and protect him. Teach me to know You and to grow in Your ways.

I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

27 Responses to “Tools for Building an Intimate Marriage”

  • Elkay says:

    Shirley, thank you very much for your note of appreciation because it does help to know that these articles are helpful. This particular one does have excellent advice for growing your marriage and drawing you two closer. God created marriage as a sacred institution for the welfare and happiness of mankind in which man and woman bind together, become one in His eyes, reflect His image and serve and worship Him.

    So we pray, “Heavenly Father, lease help Shirley and her husband know that marriage is a decision to be committed to one another no matter what, and from that commitment, may unselfish love flow between them as they receive Your love for them. May they minimize each other’s weaknesses, praise and magnify each other’s points of beauty and strength, and see each other through a lover’s kind, joyful and patient eyes. And then, Lord, give them a great spiritual purpose in life so that they seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness and honor You forever. We ask for this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.”

  • Mrs. Shirley Visher says:

    My husband and I just said our vows in April of this year in my church. I will be actually walking down the aisle to him Aug the 5th of this year. We did it this way so we will no longer living in sin together. And we can’t live with out one another. This is my first real chance at being married and in true love. I want to make sure I am doing this marriage right. I love my husband with all of my heart and soul. I believe truly in my heart he was sent to me from God through prayer. I really like your article. It is very encouraging and supportive for me so thank you very much for take the time out of your busy schedule to write it!

  • Alfred says:

    Hi Kitten, This article is written be a woman, which may be the reason you see it that way. However, I feel that what she says applies equally to men & to women. So, it still seems one-sided to you; well, I’m certain that there is much here for men to do. Marriage is a relationship in which communication is a two-way street. Above all, I believe we need to thank God for our spouse!

  • RichJ says:

    Anger is choice. First we must ask ourselves “Why are we angry?” Do we have the right to be angry – has the other person committed some actual grievance or was it just a misunderstanding or a clash of cultures? Then forgiveness needs to be introduced. Forgive yourself for being angry and forgive the other if needed.

  • Kitten says:

    I don’t get it ? Why does this site seem to publish only articles telling the wife things to do for the marriage? Will there be some articles like this for husbands?

  • Aldo says:

    Ivy Gitau, thank you for your appreciation for the article, and your decision to apply its tools. May God lead, guide and bless you and yours as you endeavor to build an intimate marriage which will be pleasing in His sight.

  • ivy Gitau says:

    I just stumble on this article,I guess it’s God who allowed me to see it I’m going to apply them with God’s help

  • Bukola Alemede says:

    My husband and I were just enjoying a two day holiday at a resort when we discovered this excellent well thought out write up. Its indeed life transforming.
    Thank you.

  • Sharon says:

    thank you for posting this good article somethig for all of us to have to build better marriges

  • Naomi says:

    I just stumbled upon this page and I’m blessed to have done so, thank you for this!!

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Husband2012, I think there are some of the tools here listed that you can use without the cooperation of your spouse. The “Response Tool” is one where you carefully consider what you say before you respond to her anger. The “Blessing Tool” can for sure be used regularly no matter how your spouse is treating you. Intentionally be looking for things that you can authentically be admiring her for and then find opportunities to communicate that to her. Even the “Sharing Tool” is one that you can make use of on your own but also creating an environment where questions you ask of her can lead to her sharing about herself. And the “Contact Tool” is one that you can use without her agreeing. It is about you intentionally finding ways to interact together. The better you know her the more you will discover what paths of connection are more likely to elicit a response from her.

  • Husband2012 says:

    If your marriage is coming from a damaged position, how do you go about reestablishing a safe middle ground to even be able to try to use any of these steps? My wife is angry about so many things from before we even met, and we both carry our pains from life, I love her but My faith that she loves me, is damaged and she does not try to fix it. What can I even do?

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    That is such a good perspective Shiru. There will be far greater health in relationships when we focus our attention on how God wants to change me rather than how I want God to change my spouse. It goes against the tendency of our society because we live in a world where the individual is supreme. Jesus’ message was totally counter-cultural because He instructed, “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45) Paul recognized this when he wrote, “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.” (Philippians 3:3-5)

    I will be praying for you Shiru as you use these tools in your marriage and seek the help of God to change you and heal your marriage.

  • shiru says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I was feeling like I’ve reached the end in my marriage but I will now give it 3 more months and use these practical tools faithfully.

    I have tried some of the tool but because I forget I cannot change my husband but I can change “me”. I can work with God because he has the power to change anyone and he created marriage..

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Hal, I’m glad to hear that this article helped. If you’re looking for more training on how to have an even better marriage there are wonderful marriage enrichment conferences put on by Family Life. I highly recommend them. Conferences happen all year. Here’s the schedule for conferences in the US and conferences in Canada.

  • hal charles says:

    being I was brought up in christian home I should be able to understand how to be a better mate I dealing with trying not to be so selfish and critic and not being a good listener. lI on my second marriage and I”m just learning how to live with a person who gives alot and hardly complain about much. Just reading your wording have given me something to build on. God bless u and keep writing good encourgaing words. I need them. .

  • cc says:

    This is just amazing i was reading this while crying coz this tells that women are the ones to make marriage work. Thank you for the tools it has changed my thoughts. I said the prayer and cried more. God bless you and continue doing the good work.

  • ALICE says:

    thank you for this real useful, putting God first in every aspect of life and let Him Work in your marriage. i will put this in practice in Jesus Name thank you again. God bless you.

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Mel I don’t think was intended to make women feel like it is their fault. However, since this is addressed to women it is probably most helpful to talk about what a woman can do. No woman is going to be able to change their husband but you can create an environment that fosters the potential for your husband to change.

  • Mel says:

    This article seems to put the focus on what a women needs to do and that it is her fault for the issues. Honestly it makes me feel worse.

  • Brenda says:

    Thank you, Gail, this is an absolutely fantastic article; I so agree with the others who commented here that these suggestions cannot do anything other than grow a marriage! God bless you!

  • Vlad says:

    It’s appropriate time to make a few plans for the longer term and it’s time to be happy. I’ve learn this post and if I may just I wish to recommend you few fascinating issues or suggestions. Maybe you could write subsequent articles relating to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

  • Neiymah says:

    i am sooo greatful for your advice which truly confirms my thoughts that God is the master architect of life and Lord of marriages, whom i should trust and rely on for his grace to build my marriage up. i think i have done some affirmation, and sharing with my husband, and tried to show interest in his work. I have seen that contact and blessing tools are all the same important to make this marriage blossom into newer heights that God wants…and i praise the Lord for these insights!

  • John says:

    I just discovered your website yesterday and it’s amazing. Thank you for these valuable truths and I’m looking forward putting them in practice. God bless.

  • Peter says:

    Hi,I am convinced just from reading through this document that if I open up truely and follow up what is required,our marriage will bloom.Thank you.

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