Many men think like this when they hear the word “intimacy”:
Intimacy = Sexual pleasure
However, this definition fits neither the biblical idea nor what most women think when they hear the word. When we limit intimacy to sex, we miss a crucial dimension of the relationship we may enjoy with women. When women think of intimacy, the definition often looks something like this:
Intimacy = A connection of hearts, physical and emotional closeness, spending time together, talking, being romantic, being appreciated for more than sex.
True intimacy may be experienced spiritually and emotionally without sexual activity!
Nonetheless, God did design "wowie zowie" as one dimension of the "one flesh" relationship husbands and wives should enjoy together. However, even this design has boundaries for what is and is not appropriate. I see three such boundaries.
First, when we understand God's design for sex as mutual enjoyment which honors one another, we can exclude unhealthy or hurtful practices as inappropriate. Any masochistic or sadistic sex violates the idea of honoring our bodies and honoring our partner and therefore falls outside the bounds of appropriate sex.
Second, neither partner should try to make the other do something they feel uncomfortable doing, even if it is not, in itself, inappropriate. This boundary differs for each couple, and it might even change at different stages of the relationship. Let’s say you love to hold hands in public. Your wife, however, does not like to hold hands in public. At some time in your relationship, you talked about it, and your wife told you she disliked it. Today the two of you are enjoying a day at the zoo, and you reach for her hand. But you remember she doesn’t like holding hands in public. What should you do? You could either pull your hand back or even ask permission to hold it. But if she says “no” and you take her hand anyway, you have violated a boundary. You have now turned the expression from something mutually enjoyable into a selfish act, one that does not honor her. Granted, this is a silly illustration, but I think you get the point. If your partner is uncomfortable doing something that is otherwise permissible, honor the boundary and, in so doing, honor her.
The third boundary addresses how we think about our spouse. I firmly believe I can enjoy thoughts of past experiences with my wife, and thoughts of future time together. So what boundaries should I have for my thought life about my wife? I need to guard against objectifying her – thinking of her as a body for my pleasure. Instead, I need to think of her as a whole person. In my mind, I need to avoid making her into somebody that she is not.
With these three boundaries in mind, we are free to enjoy one another thoroughly! Husband and wife have great freedom in their sexual relationship.