Unlocking the Door to Intimacy in Marriage

intimacy in marriage

Imagine you’re on the Family Feud television show. The show host steps up to you and your opponent and says: “We asked 100 people this question, and the top three answers are on the board. What is the key to intimacy in a marriage?” I can imagine a lot of words that might race through your mind. Sexual compatibility. Time. Romance. Open Communication. Compromise. Forgiveness. Kindness.

All of those are good answers. But I’d like to suggest that there’s a strong case to be made that trust is an important key that unlocks the door to emotional and physical intimacy in marriage. Before I make that case, I’d like to address what trust really is, how trust is earned, and different levels of trust.

What is Trust?

In the context of marriage, trust means you have placed your confidence in your spouse. When you trust your spouse, you are confident that they:

  • are who they say they are…that they are authentic…the real deal.
  • will always speak the truth to you and will not keep secrets from you or share your secrets with others.
  • will do what they say they’ll do…you can “take it to the bank” so to speak.

Levels of Trust

You trust some people more and some people less. That’s because some have made more deposits into your trust account than others. For example, the person I trust most in my life is my wife, Susan. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple actually. She’s earned it. She’s authentic. She always tells me the truth, does not keep secrets, and is an open door to me. As a result, she’s amassed a lot of wealth in the trust account. Likewise, I’ve amassed a lot of wealth in her trust account for the very same reasons.

On the other hand, there are many people I know, but don’t know well, who have made smaller deposits into the trust account. They may be wonderful people, but not enough time has passed for me to really get to know who they really are and how they will really behave in the relationship.

And, over the years, there have been a few people I’ve encountered who have proven to be frauds, liars or deceivers. Their accounts have been completely depleted and no trust is there.

Trust Must Be Earned

Trust is not something that anyone owes you. Trust must be earned. Let me illustrate. When you get your paycheck, you deposit it into a bank. Then the bank pays you a little interest for keeping your money there. In the same way, each time your spouse shows their openness and authenticity, tells the truth or does what they said they’d do, a deposit is made in your trust account. The more deposits that are made, the more you trust them. On the other hand, if just one dark secret comes to light, one lie is told to you, it can completely deplete their trust account with you. Then they’ll have to start from scratch to make deposits to build up that trust once again.

A Breach of Trust Locks the Door to Intimacy

A breach of trust—a lie, an affair, a secret addiction—will quickly slam the door shut to intimacy and closeness in your relationship. When those things are discovered, there is a “run on the bank” and every deposit ever made is suddenly gone. When there is a breach of trust by a spouse, the other is often deeply wounded and in enormous pain. To avoid any more pain, they understandably put up protective barriers or walls around them. Emotional or physical intimacy quickly disappears and it will take a lot of work by the offending party to rebuild trust in the relationship.

Other things may not seem as serious, but cause a lack of trust. Unwillingness to be open for inspection, careless spending, verbal abuse, and inconsistent living, privately and publicly, all can be culprits. When there is a lack of trust, the door to intimacy may be open, but certainly not very wide. There is an underlying sense of doubt and a feeling of insecurity. And when a spouse, especially a wife, does not feel safe, both emotional and physical intimacy may be there, but are usually very restrained. Being honest in hard things may cause a major setback now, but will eventually build even more trust and greater intimacy.

Trust Unlocks the Door to Intimacy

As trust increases between a husband and wife, there is less and less fear of being hurt. They feel safer and can be more vulnerable. The door to intimacy then opens and the couple can share their desires, hopes, dreams, and bodies freely with one another. The more you trust your spouse, the more you want to invite them into your life and give yourself to them. [Tweet This]

What is your level of trust with your spouse? Have you experienced a trust in your relationship that has led to deeper intimacy? Please share your thoughts.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Scarlet

    Because my Husband increasingly became verbally abusive I began shutting down. I took blame for my kids mistakes so he would leave them alone and when they all left the nest I became his target. My trust is so little I sleep with pillows in between us. There is no physical or emotional intimacy what so ever. After I was diagnosed with a very painful incurable disease it just became worse. I walk on egg shells at all times. I calculate how many days until he blows up again. Now my emotional pain matches my physical pain from this disease. Considering my pain med is stronger than cancer patients receive I think that speaks for itself. I’m trapped, alone, empty and too sad to cry anymore. He once attempted to go after our grandson who was neglected prior to living w us and he was just over a year and he totally came unglued screaming and yelling at him for crying. I stood up and threatened to call the police which scared him because he also wears a badge and he would be outed if the truth of his abuse was known amongst his peers. Since then he has never done that again because he knows I will report him. I don’t remember what it feels like to be hugged with love or held or kissed or cherished. I flinch when he touches me which angers him as well. I never do things right, or the way he would like and sometimes I can’t do anything because of pain. He has no empathy and has suggested all th doctors have not diagnosed me correctly. I fantasize about being held and comforted but I know I will never get that from him. This sounds so pitiful yet it’s just my daily life. I’m sorry

  • madeleine

    thank you for a fantastic article— In 1988, My husband and I went on a WW Marriage Encounter weekend after being married for 15 yrs…..That weekend changed the entire course of our relationship by the Grace of God……by learning how to communicate from our hearts, we increased the trust in our relationship which increased our intimacy which increased our union and joy—— 27 yrs later we share our hearts every day, and are more united and joyful than the day we married….Thanks be to God who answered my prayer to make us more united to Him and to each other!!…. I am sharing your article with everyone I know!!

  • madeleine

    Scarlet, I am so sad for your pain and hurt…..God bless you and heal you and give you what you need….Nothing is impossible for God…….

  • Tammy

    Sorry for what…venting. You need to vent. It does not solve the issue, but it is good to release the hurt inside a bit. God bless you.

  • lovelyleo66

    Unfortunately for me, I feel as if I’m the unloved woman who is not valued for who I am. My husband only wants to have sex at night or in the mornings but fails to spend time with me as his wife and as a woman with needs. We need help in our marriage but my husband refuses to acknowledge there is a problem. As long as I’m having sex with him, everything is okay with him. He is not paying attention to my need for his emotional support.

  • Madeleine, this is so encouraging to hear! Thank you so much for sharing.