Our Longing for Closeness
Bone of My Bones
The English word for intimacy comes from the Latin word intimus, meaning “inner.” Thus, intimacy involves two people opening their inner selves to each other. It is entering into each other’s lives emotionally, intellectually, socially, physically, and spiritually. It is connecting at the deepest possible level in every area of life. We believe the other person has our best interests in mind; thus, we can open ourselves up without fear that what we are telling or allowing to be seen will be used against us.
The desire for intimacy between a man and a woman is as old as the human race. The book of Genesis shows God creating woman from a portion of man’s rib. When the man awoke from a deep sleep and saw the woman that God had created he said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” (Genesis2:23). There she stood—another like him but with unique differences, more like him than anything he had seen and yet obviously different, separate from him and yet related to him. Something deep within him responded to something deep within her. This was no superficial encounter. It was deep responding unto deep. This was the heart of humanity responding to another human heart, another who was closer to him than all else in the universe.
These two realities, similarity and difference, are the raw material of human intimacy. Without these two, there could be no intimacy. Men and women are distinct individuals and yet they are physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually related to each other. There is something in the man that cries out for the woman and something within the woman that longs for the companionship of the man. To deny our similarities is to deny our basic humanity. To deny our differences is a futile effort to refute reality.
In a healthy marriage, our theme is never competition but rather cooperation. We find in each other a resting place, a home, a relative, one to whom we are deeply and uniquely related.
Sexual intimacy is one aspect of unity. However, the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual areas of life cannot be separated from the physical. In a healthy marriage, the couple has come to understand that their desire for intimacy is a part of who they are. It is one of the reasons they married in the first place. Most couples can look back on a period in their relationship when they talked of being “in love.” They experienced a deep sense of closeness. It all began with a physical, emotional attraction for each other that I call “the tingles.” It is the tingles that motivate us to date. The whole purpose of the dating phenomenon is to “get to know each other,” which is simply another phrase for intimacy. When the “in-love stage” is fully developed, we have a sense of belonging to each other. We feel that somehow we were meant for each other. We experience the willingness to be open and honest, to tell our deepest secrets. We sense in our hearts that we will love each other forever, that we want each other’s happiness above all else, and that our own happiness is dependent upon being with this person forever. It is this deep sense of intimacy that gives us the courage to make a lifetime commitment to marriage.