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Ep. 101 How To Build Strong Intimacy in Your Marriage

by Claudine Sweeney
November 3rd 2021

This one is for those married ladies! Ever find that your intimacy is just lacking in your relationship? Your husband wants more physical intimacy and you want more emotional connection which has c... More

This is episode 101 How to build strong intimacy in your marriage. You're listening to the Rise up and Shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley as an empty nester and a mom with young kids. We have both shared very similar and very real struggles from chaos to coaches. We now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So, tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. This is the Rise up and Shine podcast. Yeah. Mhm. Kiss me and kiss me again for your love is sweeter than wine. Is that Shakespeare? No, that is song of Solomon. Oh, it's in the bible is it's a scripture who would have thought No, I no, I'm teasing you. You kind of gave me chills there a little bit. Is that how you speak to your husband? Oh yeah, all the time. 33 years and yeah, you've learned well, ladies today, if you haven't had any clue yet, we are going to be talking about intimacy in our marriages.

So, this is something that we all experience. You know, some of us are looking to increase the intimacy in our marriage, right? Some of us might feel that the area is actually going pretty well, Claudine and I, you know, we're in different stages of life and it's something we very much relate on because it's something we need to keep managing and keep as a priority for that closeness and that relationship with our husband. So, today, what we're going to do is to start off is just that, right. What is, what is intimacy like I said, it's closeness, whether it's physical, emotional is that closeness with one another. And I bet if you ask any man, they're going to say, oh, it's the physical. And if you ask anyone and they're probably gonna say, oh, it's the emotional, right? And it is, it's both actually, it could be physical. Um, and it can also be emotional in both for sure. And I know it goes to our own needs, write our own individual needs. As women, we tend to want more of the emotional aspect of it. Not all I do have some dear friends who, you know, definitely prefer the physical and that's very important for them in their relationships.

Um, but primarily probably for women, it's emotional and again, for men is physical. But what happens is we just get bombarded by life. Life happens stress kids, um work, whatever gets in the way, and we get so busy and distracted that we forget to put intention into this area in our marriages, intimacy. Yet if you reach my stage of life, which is an empty nester, midlife where the kids are grown. If we don't take care of this in your stage of life, it could become a really big deal and could become a marriage buster later in life. So that's why it's an important topic. So we're going to be real, we're going to still keep it clean, but we're going to be real. But if you have small Children or young or even teenage Children, it may not be something you want to blast off. Don't right listen to this on your way to drop the kids off. But it is important and we really did want to address it because it is something that we both as married women have to work at and to develop. And especially as christian women, we want to make sure that we are taking care of our husbands needs.

Because if we're not, there's plenty women out in the world that would like to write. That's what I never forget as a young christian. This was an area that I used to. Um, and as a young mom, I was 25. It was an area that I used to withhold from my husband. Like it was kind of my retaliation if I was mad at him or upset with him, I would hold back and I'll never forget one of the women that was mentoring me at the time. She said, you know, if you don't take care of your husband's me. There are plenty of women out there who will, it was very convicting and very sobering and I was like, oh yeah, I can't work this way anymore. These are the old ways, my worldly ways. I need to take on some new ways to fight for this in my marriage. Yeah. You know, it's interesting you say that because not too long ago, um I had an eye opening epiphany, right? I thought, gosh, like if I don't take initiative or you know, to better this department in our marriage, um if I don't make it a priority for me to show up in that way for my husband, then I could be that stumbling block for him in his own purity and in his own his own life and spiritual walk with God.

And you know, I thought, gosh, how would I want my needs to be met? You know, how can I ask my husband? I need more emotional intimacy from you if I'm not willing to give more physical intimacy with my husband. You know, I kind of convicted myself, I'm like, how dare I ask if I'm not willing to do my part. And so really what helped is I didn't focus so much on, well, my husband needs to, you know, talk with me more and he needs to be more available emotionally. And then I will, you know, right? And so I thought, no, it could start with me. I'm going to do my part and see what God can do, right? So, I started working and being more intentional about it and it did God really provided. And then my husband will show up more emotionally for me because he feels loved and cared for, right? And I know when we feel loved and cared for, then we show up better, you know, for our significant other as well. That's right. Yes. So I guess bartering this is this is another way I used to do. I would barter household chores for sex.

I learned that was not correct way of going about it. So I had to change my ways. So apparently getting my husband to sweep the floors, do the dishes, do the laundry was not an acceptable, said it work, it did work. It only worth different kind of motivation, different kind of motivation. I was like, okay, I probably shouldn't ask them to barter, but anyway, so that's not one way to do it, but we're going to talk about some real ways, but you know, what happens is we do kind of fall into these habits and we find out well this works, you know, both ways. It's kind of working for us, but it may be working, but it may not be very beneficial or healthy in the long run. You know, it's really important to remember the big picture of things and your intimacy and your connection with each other. Is this really, you know, it is this coming from a place of love or is it coming more of a place of power and domination? Right? Like, no, I need to be in control of this and I'm going to get what I want. Yeah, very much so. So, Ashley, you have young Children, you still have school aged Children home. So why don't you share some of the challenges that come in your age to keeping the intimacy alive time.

Yes, that's a big one time. I remember when my kids were little, their 4th and 5th grade now, but even when they were probably three or four, I was already thinking like, so now it's not about marriage, it's about raising Children. And then when the Children, you know, graduate high school and move out of the house, then it'll be back to focusing on our marriage. And I thought is this just what life is? I guess this is just what happens because also when you talk with friends, you know, or other moms at the playground and it's like, oh yeah, it's too and oh yeah, it's all about the kids and we don't have time for anything and time was a huge one. Um Also unmet expectations, right? As I said earlier. Well my husband needs to be available more emotionally for me, right? That was a big one. Because what does unmet expectations lead to frustration and when we have frustration in our heart, we're not showing up well in our marriage, right? The other thing is offenses, I would get my feelings hurt a lot.

But part of that was my character flaw which was I would be the victim and any time, you know, my husband would tend to get more frustrated, I would get hurt and then I would disconnect and withdraw and isolate myself as protection. But it was not helpful, right? I mean that we learn these patterns and so our brains like, oh protect protect right? We want to be safe and comfortable and so that's what I would do. That was my coping. I would just withdraw and he would withdraw as well. And then there's no connection, There's no talking. You know, there's no touch, there's nothing going on. There's no connection. Um, the other thing for me is just busy, you know, us moms with young kids with schedules with activities, homework, you name it, you know, naps get all that stuff, you know, birthday parties right? So much. So we just get busy. What happened with my marriage is we got too busy and it was all about business. So the times that we did talk, it was about the kids, it was parenting issues is a better budget.

It was about um, the chores around the house, it was about what our plans for this weekend. It was business stuff and not just fun. Not exactly four plays. No, we're friendship. Exactly. Kiss me. Kiss me darling. Your love is sweeter than why not. Exactly those kind of conversations. No. Um, and then the lack of communication as well. I realized it was eye opening for me that I thought I did not communicate even early into our marriage. Things that I enjoyed. I actually learned this past year that I like physical touch. I never thought of myself as a physical touch person. You know, you do the love languages that was like lowest on my life. But I've learned in our marriage what happened was that he would try to be affectionate and I was uncomfortable and so I wasn't accepting to his um physical touch. And so it turned him off and he kind of stopped trying. But then I realized that I missed that. Like, I really like now I want a 22nd hug before work or I want to lay next to him and intertwined my legs with his and just be close.

You know, I didn't realize that I wanted that in the past. And one another thing was, I would in the car, you know, stroke the back of his neck while he's driving and he voiced before that he didn't really like it. And so I stopped but then I realized that I liked it. That was my sense of connection. That physical touch was connection. But I stopped because he didn't like it rather than communicating with him. Oh, I, I like it because I feel close to you. You know? And so we actually had a recent conversation about the legs intertwine and he said, I kind of don't like that because I think he can't focus. It's so funny, so funny because I love, I love that too. We both me intertwine our legs. And so then after over 50 I started getting overheated so now, so my poor has too hot, it's way too hot. But we just had our first really cool day. So hopefully the next month. So really, it's just in the cooler months, it's just in the cooler months and I love it because I to do physical touch.

But the last couple of years I'm like, don't touch me, you can't touch me at night. And that's a very different thing. Very different our stage. Yeah, Yeah. So women over 50, we have some different struggles. So for some of the women that I've talked to and spoken with, some of the things that can hamper intimacy, our resentment. So you were talking about communication, what happens is sometimes we start pushing things down. We're like well, he never listens anyway, right? We've talked about this so many times. I'm not bringing it up again. But what happens is we build up resentment and when we have resentment that's um dealt with, it's really hard to feel close to your spouse or at least physically close, at least for me. And I think many other women I'm not alone. It's very difficult to want to be physically intimate when there's resentment in our hearts. Another one that's come up with women in my bracket is body size. Like when we married, my husband, I were very young, I had a great figure in as we age and as some of us don't like going to the gym, but we're going to start because we've said so publicly and we're going to do it.

Although we do have a bicycle now. It's right next to my side of the bed by the window. So I have not yet yet, but I'm going to, I promise you, we'll, oh, Cloudy and my friend, I will, I'm gonna, I will call your company is leaving. Yes. We have had company first in our home. That could be another blocked intimacy. Having nonstop houseguests in your weeks on end. Anyway, body size is a big thing for women and my husband's great. He's always affirming me tell me how beautiful I look all those things. That's great. But if we don't feel great about it and for me it's not even about a size. It's about how do I feel in my own skin and they're, you know, I've had to do a lot of work there because I was for so many years feeling like I need to look this way and social media and television in today's culture does not help us women in that area because what's promoted as the right or the best body type is usually not even natural.

I mean we think, oh, well they're portraying that that's what men want. So we need to be that, oh, but I'm not, you know, it's funny, I can relate to that one after having kids. Yes, I remember thinking so many times, like I just totally wasted my useful body, you know, like I totally just wasted it away. Well, I never had that back again. What's funny is I did okay with two, but I think I was a little younger than you were. I was in my early twenties with my first two, so my body bounced back. Pretty good. Third one did me in third one. I was like, yeah, that's it. It's not bouncing back after this. And the fourth one, now it's just bouncing as just down the street, bounce back. It's just bouncing. So true. That's a visual. Probably most of the listeners didn't need to hear. So let's go back to another block. Yeah, let's move forward in my age range. Another thing is loss of common interest. So like you shared when the kids are young, that's something you're working together.

Like our only common interests can be, it can be. And so that's why there's so many breakups and divorces when the kids are out of the house, there's so much because you look at each other and you're like, I don't even know you anymore and we don't have anything in common anymore. And that can be a really tough place. So it's like, you know, are you right now you're really forced to look at each other and who are you? Because it was the kids, Gosh just fills up your time. Yeah, you had a common goal, You know, we're going to raise these kids to adulthood hopefully safely and wisely and well, but once they're grown, it can be a time of, oh now what? So it can be, can be a great time. But typically that can be a block. I was really surprised in the last probably two years I started hearing more and more, whether online or even celebrities or some of our conversations of people, empty nesters who they're married, they choose to stay married. I heard this on the radio to there was some statistic, I can't even remember, but they would live in separate houses.

They would have their own separate spaces. Maybe they'll go out on dates, Who knows? Maybe not. But they're married, but they start this whole separate life was really interesting. I thought I've never heard of that before, which is so funny. I joked with my husband when I started getting my heating problems in the evening and night, I'd say maybe we need to separate beds because you know, it's just so hot with another human next to you. He's like, that will never happen. People, he's like, that will never happen between you mean like always together. Always. So yeah, none of that would fly in my house. No separate beds, bedrooms. None of that. That would not work. Well, I mean the idea seems like, wow, that's kind of cool. But you know, when you think about it, it's probably because every like both parents, it's all about the kids, right? And then once the kids move out, then it's like, oh, now I can focus on me and so that now they're going after what they want in their own personal life. And if we spend more time throughout this time period and my, you know, in my case with being home with kids and raising young kids that if we spend intentional time caring for ourselves and making sure we're doing things we want.

Now, there probably won't be this huge extreme later when the kids are at the house that, oh, now I can do something I want to do. You go to something you want to do now, You know, without sacrificing a whole lot of time and energy from your family. That's totally okay. And it's healthy. It's healthy to have a hobby or work or something that you want to do, that is yours, You know, that's really important. Yeah, definitely. And I wish I wish I'd had this podcast or these helpful hints 2030 years ago, I really needed him. I didn't have them. We just didn't have the resources like that back then. Um, but it's so true. Like we can be our best versions of ourselves, even with little kids. So that way when you hit my stage, you're like, okay, I'm already doing this. It's not this crisis or midlife crisis, not that women usually have them, but sometimes they do and that could be a whole another episode, but women who have stayed home and raise their kids once the last one leaves the nest. That can be a whole identity crisis right there. Midlife crisis. Because it's like now, what now?

What? And that's what I mostly work with women that are at that stage. It's like now what? You know, but very common, very common. You know, I thought of one more thing can be a block is our phones are phones because you know, maybe like, I know in my case my has many works, long hours, he comes home and he's with us, you know, physically in the room last night, we were doing mad Libs I kept eyeballing him as like, I'm watching you and he keeps checking his phone's growing his phone for a minute, then he puts it away and then a minute later he takes it out. Even our daughter is like, you don't stay very interested dad, but you know what we do because we're trying to wind down from the day so we can finally, we had dinner, let's sit on the couch, just just kind of relax and wind down and we could just kind of be scrolling on our phones were that's not necessarily a bad thing, but have a balance. You know, let's spend some time and just chat about our day with our husbands. Well, interestingly, that segue right into my first practical. So I'll just share and knew that No, you didn't.

You didn't know that. No, I did that. But I think it's one of yours, but one of the first things in protecting our intimacy and keeping it alive is being present. Being present in the moment. I mean obviously they're going to be times where we have to make phone calls or work or we want some of that down time where we can just numb out. But when we're with our spouse to really be present, I know that's something that drove my husband crazy. So I would play these little games on my phone. So funny. And so he talked to me about it a couple times. I'm like, well I'm just relaxing for a few minutes, but I would do it when I was with him and that bothered him. So I actually just stopped playing in april and I haven't played since. Unfortunately now I figured out Pinterest on my phone so I have to be careful what are you doing now? I'm pinning things. I'm looking up a recipe for you for dinner tomorrow. No, but anyway, so be present. I mean jokes aside, it's important to really be present to connect. Yeah. And going along with being present. Especially for those who still have kids at home, our minds constantly thinking what needs to be right, what should I be doing?

What should should should we should ourselves on what I should be doing instead and that just even in our own minds we can keep ourselves disconnected and not present because we're constantly thinking of our list of to do. That's so true. Another one I want to share is prioritize protecting our marriage. The intimacy is prioritizing making our marriage a priority. So another one is prioritizing, right? We have so many things on our list to do. You know, a lot of things going through our minds. But to prioritize our marriage, that should definitely be a priority. Ha ha! Yeah, right. We need to protect our time with our spouse. And that should be something that happens every day. You like that. You hear the birdies, a little lovebirds. Did you, did you hire him just for this episode? They weren't singing for a while. And now all of a sudden they just want to be part of their intimacy. I, I think they're saying amen, that's what I hear. So if you hear my little birdies in the background, they're singing, they're happy. Okay. So prioritizing making sure we spend time and we have to be intentional, right?

It takes planning. It takes okay. When, like, for example, I've shared this before on the podcast, it was so hard for me to find time with my husband because we would constantly be interrupted by the kids anytime we sit outside. Try and talk for 15 minutes. It's like all of a sudden they need something every second. Every time. Every single time. So what I would do. I sacrificed my sleep and I started waking up early and again, I did not just jump all in and do every day. I started with one day a week and I would wake up early because he works in construction, he goes to work early, so, and I was able to get good time with him, good uninterrupted time. And kind of ironically, you might find this if you do this with your husband, that when you start like a new goal, it seems like something is trying to sabotage it. So I kid you not when I was, when I started to do this, the kids were waking up early. Yeah, they were not waking up at six before and then all of a sudden they decide, oh we're gonna wake up in the soup because they must have known mom and dad wanted time together. But it took, I had to stick with it, I'm going to do it again, I'm going to do it again. So that's just something some idea.

Well, it's funny you say that because it's so true. Prioritize and you know, as christian women, we know our priorities, our relationship with God, then our relationship with our spouse and then our relationship with our kids and it does take intention, It really does to make it all work to put those date nights because for you with little kids, you have to find a sitter, you can't just leave your home alone. Well you could, but you know, Children's services. Yeah, it might come knocking. I'll never forget. Our daughter turned 12 so we waited a day waited today. We didn't want to do it on our birthday were like CIA, that's the legal age here in California. But we're like, bye bye. That is so funny. But really to put that attention to go, okay, where can we go for us? We needed to go out. I know you can get creative and do it after the kids are in bed but I was so tired when my kids were little like they went to bed. I mean if I wasn't in bed five minutes after them. I don't know. But to really make those times to find a sitter, find a family member to barter trade anyway, make it happen, make their own play dates sleepovers.

However option, there are many options. It'll feel impossible. It'll feel when we have these young kids, it feels like it's just not in the cards for us. We don't have family closer. We don't really have great friends, we feel like we can trust or there's something you can do something and even you don't always have to go out, you know. Yeah, this is sometimes we do use sometimes electronics to say why don't you have an hour playing games are on, watch a show and we can go sit upstairs or outside and then they're not needing us because they're glued to the tv. Right? Exactly. So to do that all the time or every day. But once a week it doesn't hurt. Another one is making sure you care for yourself. So I've learned, I have to take better care of myself and give myself breaks and rest and so I can show up better in my marriage too because what would happen is I'm so run down, so tired trying to get all the to dues done, which that's another episode we can talk about that.

I would be too tired to spend time with my husband. I'm like, I am going to bit Yeah. Yeah. And so making sure we spend time every day, it could just be a little bit, just a little bit to recharge whether that spend 15 minutes on the couch reading a book or something that you enjoy throughout the day that you can do um to help care for yourself. So you get a little rejuvenation. That is huge, huge. That's a great one, especially for the young parents. Another one for us, older older folk is encouraged one another because what I find in with us and with others in our age bracket is we've gotten very used to each other. You know, we take each other for granted and it's hard. Like last week or two weeks ago my husband was like, he was really frustrated with me and then he's like, you didn't even thank me for finding the landscape or whatever. And I was like, what, like okay, but you know, but that's what he needed to me. It didn't register. I'm like, but that was on your to do list.

Like I have my to do list and you have your to do list. But that's what he really needed. He needed to be encouraged. You need to be told, thank you so much for doing that. This was important to me. You heard me? I don't want to have dirt anymore. I want, you know some concrete and some sod whatever we're doing. Very simple, but he needed to be encouraged and it really hit me like it's just after 30 plus years, you just think, well I've already told you everything wonderful, right? Do you need to hear it again? But the bible reminds us to encourage one another daily and that includes our spouses. Like how often do we encourage our husbands? I mean really sit and think about maybe some of you out there are really great at it. It is not my strength. So I really have to fight to encourage them and to remember him and he's like, you know, you don't ever offer me any of your food either. So funny. I think he's like, well because I'm really selfish. One of my food I don't share. I do share food, but we always share when we go out to eat.

But sometimes at home if I'm getting a little snack, it's like, it's my snack and I don't want to share my snack. Yeah. So he's like, you know, I always share with you my food, you know, why don't you share? So now I've started and it's like, it's important to him. It goes back to communication, which was talking about, Yeah, huge. But just really letting each other know, like I would not have known that me having my own snacks, it hurts, it kind of bothered him. He was like, you know, you're just thinking about yourself when you get yeah, get boxes and the vineyards. But um, And the encourage one another daily because after 30 years you kind of feel like I've said it all at least a dozen times by now. Feel about to say it again and again is probably why it's in the scriptures. You know, I heard this quote before, I don't even remember where it was, but you want to make sure they feel loved, not just know you love them, right? So rather like, yes, it's nice to say it, but also to make them feel loved by you.

So I'm going to share one also that's um, been a little personal, but as far as the physical aspect because we want to make sure as well as the emotional is the physical aspect of intimacy, but that the way that we view it, right? The way that we view sex. So if any of us have had any abuse in the past that definitely plays a factor into the physical intimacy and I know it has in my own marriage. Like I mean it's funny but I would change in the closet. I for many years in our marriage, I still actually do. I'm trying to get better at it. Yes, I do too. Yeah. But convenience or because you feel uncomfortable, I feel uncomfortable. Okay. Yeah. So that is something that I would do. I would not feel comfortable around, you know, changing around my husband, but also as far as sex. Like I didn't have the best view of it because I had negative experiences and so when we have that carries into our marriage and so to really remember that our husband is different.

Like our husband is someone different, like he is safe but he is someone that I can trust that loves me. Um that can care for me. And so really viewing it. One thing that actually I started doing more lately I read in a book um was, it's like play like playtime, right? And it's a gift from God. It really is viewing as a gift from God. This is God designed um part of life and it's beautiful. And so I thought wow, I really need to get better at viewing it that way because I'm going to show up different. I'm going to show up more out of a place of love and honor for my husband and gratitude for my husband rather than it's uncomfortable and okay, let me check the box, you know, and when you go into it with that attitude, oh they know, yes, they do. You know, you're not talking about missy, you cannot not emotional, physical, none of it, you know, and we've had that conversation many times. It has really hurt my husband's things, you know, and he communicated and it's not intentional, right?

I tend to do it cause we're tired and we're trying to be giving, but you know, you're just, I'm sorry, but that's that's a big one for that. That is a big one. I mean we could talk for hours and intimacy. Hopefully these practical tips have been helpful. I know it's something, it's something we're going to continue working on all the days of our married life. It's so important more than ever. And like you said, this is a god given gift For us married couple and to really protect it. We have to really protect the intimacy in our marriages if we want to make it for the long term, which I think most of us do. None of us ever intermarriage saying, I'm going to give this 5-7 years. You know, it's like no till death do us part. That's always the hope. Um and certainly when we view marriage as a covenant, it's the way we look at it, but it is hard in this world. There are so many distractions, there are so many obstacles to that and we have to work at it really have to work at it and give it a go. Alright, everyone, thank you again for tuning in with us today and again, we want to remind you to head over to our website at Claudine Sweeney dot com and mind over chaos dot com.

Please don't forget to hit that subscribe button and review. We are really appreciative. If you can leave us a review um on Spotify or Apple, you'll find us. Okay, take care. Yeah. Alright everyone, thank you for joining in on our conversation today here on the rise up and shine podcast if you haven't already, please take a second to hit that subscribe button. So you never miss an episode and while you're at it share this episode with a friend who you know it can bless today if you want to visit us as well on our websites, you can catch Claudine over at Clotting Sweeney dot com and Ashley at mind over Chaos dot com. Our links are in the description. We also have some free resources there for you as well. So remember ladies, no matter what you are facing in life, it is never too late to rise up and shine and live your best life. Yeah, yeah

Ep. 101 How To Build Strong Intimacy in Your Marriage
Ep. 101 How To Build Strong Intimacy in Your Marriage
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