10 tips to keep intimacy alive and well in marriage
By: Mahasin D. Shamsid-Deen
Source: Jamiatul Ulama
Intimacy between married couples starts slowly and deepens over time with kindness and understanding. Below are ten tips for a healthy intimate relationship with your spouse.
There are many ways to kiss a spouse and no reason not to do so. It is a wonderful expression of affection and attraction and is from the Sunnah. So kiss as often as you like and in ways that are mutually enjoyable. Don’t neglect kissing as unimportant.
2. Look, speak, and touch each other gently
A kind expression; whispered words that express appreciation, compliments, or desire; and a gentle touch on the arm or shoulders are their own aphrodisiacs.
3. Recognize your spouse’s sexual zones
As spouses grow more and more familiar during intimacy, certain patterns will emerge over time. Although some people fear that patterns are the path to boredom, the reality is that remembering and reinforcing those things that please our spouses enhances the intimate relationship and the marriage overall.
Scientific research suggests that men reach their sexual peak in their late teens or early twenties, whereas women reach theirs a decade or more later. Often when a woman is in her thirties and forties her desire for intimacy may surge.
4. Understand, accept and appreciate natural sexual development
As a man ages, his patience, self-control, and emotional maturity increases.Through each stage, couples grow and learn more about each other and become more patient and sensitive to each other’s needs. This is wonderful because it allows a couple’s intimate life to balance out.
5. Acknowledge the different kinds of intimacy
Many women who have converted into Islam worry about becoming sexual slaves due to distorted reports of women’s obligations to satisfy the lusts of men.This could be no further from the truth.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) warned men that their wives have rights over them – this includes intimate contact. It is not a one-way street. Wives may have their own needs from their husbands.
Marriage is about sharing mood and emotions as well as physical contact. Having someone there for us during these times creates a bond and trust that benefits our psyche and produces feelings of happiness. It also benefits us physically by releasing endorphins and lowering anxiety. Whatever the kind of intimacy a couple engages in, ultimately intimacy connects the couple, maintaining and strengthening the marital relationship.Some couples, especially young married couples or those overly influenced by media portrayals, may feel that passionate intimacy is the only goal. However, every time a couple joins, there is no need to be fireworks.This is because intimacy is variable. There are times when intimacy will simply be a comfort. Other times it may be functional, celebratory, or satisfy a need or desire in the moment. Yet, other times it might happen simply because the couple is close together.
6. Put her in the mood
Men are more likely to be stimulated by visual images. Something as simple as his wife’s smile, the flip of her hair, or her movements as she goes about her day may trigger feelings of passion.
However, acting on these impulses all of the time without considering that women need to mentally prepare for sex is counterproductive. Often couples confine themselves to a very small definition of foreplay.
A wife may respond to hugs and caresses, playful attention, certain foods, or even conversation that is pleasing thus putting her in the mood. There is a hadith where the Prophet (pbuh) implied that engaging in intimacy without foreplay could be considered an act of cruelty to the wife.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Let none of you come upon his wife like an animal, let there be an emissary between them.” When asked what the emissary is, he replied, “The kiss and sweet words.”
As women age, they may experience pain or tearing without stimulation that releases fluids for ease of entry. Therefore, the strength of a good intimate relationship relies a lot on doing that good deed.
Even after years of marriage, many couples may still feel shy about communicating sexual needs or sexual problems. This is especially an issue for men who commonly do not want to give the wife the impression that they are anything other than strong and virile.
In some instances, there may be physical concerns that affect ability, desire, and frequency of intimate contact. Couples may lie in silent frustration, too embarrassed to discuss so they start to grow apart. Remember that you are both each other’s only halal means of sexual fulfillment. Spouses have a right to know and assist when they find that the other has a physical issue that is affecting intimacy.
As couples grow, they will learn how to speak of these things and maintain a certain amount of modesty in doing so. Couples sometimes also feel shy about addressing frequency even if there is no physical problem. Expectations of what constitutes ‘normal’ in the relationship can only be defined through communication.
8. Comfort each other
After intimate contact, couples need to take time to savor the closeness they feel in that moment. After intimacy, hold each other and talk to each other. Feel relaxed in each other’s arms and express feelings of love, dreams, goals or even concerns. The natural closeness of this time should be cherished.
Married couples too often let the children and job/career obligations overtake them and their time. Many therapists and marriage counselors report that fatigue is the number one enemy of spousal intimacy. When couples are preoccupied or tired from work, intimacy is usually one of the first things to go.
If couples get into the habit of delaying intimate contact, it often starts a pattern of having feelings of inadequacy or doubt. This can then be translated into more frequent disagreements as we consciously or subconsciously act out our dissatisfaction with the situation. No couple wants to find themselves in a rut where they feel intimacy is a thing of the past.
There is a solution to this problem and that is making each other a priority. This takes a constant effort. If exhaustion is really an issue, make a plan – find time to rest so that you can enjoy some time together. Make each other a priority.
10. Hooray! It’s Halal.
Engaging in intimate contact stirs the craving for more contact. Intimacy elevates the brain chemicals associated with desire and happiness.This human contact in marriage is ordained and encouraged for couples, so do it.