In a world full of troubled marriages, people often settle for a marriage where they simply get along. But God intends for marriage to be so much more. And with His help, you and your spouse can achieve the real intimacy He wants husbands and wives to enjoy.

Here’s how you can create real intimacy in your marriage:

Know why you need to leave your past. Understand that if you drag baggage from the past into your marriage, it will sap the energy and life out of your relationship with your spouse. View your old loyalties (to your parents and other strong influences in your life) as secondary to the new bond you need to develop with your spouse for a strong marriage.

Know why you need to weave. Understand that if you have contempt for the differences between you and your spouse, you’ll block the blessings God wants each of you to experience from learning how to work together. Realize that your differences can complement each other. Remember that God wants to weave the different colored threads of your lives together to create a beautiful tapestry.

Know why you need to cleave. Understand that if you don’t intentionally pursue the goal of growing closer to God alongside your spouse, your marriage will stagnate. Remember that your relationship is a living organism that requires regular investments of time and energy to grow.

Consider the meaning of marriage. Recognize just how important marriage is in the world. Think about marriage as trinity (it reveals God’s relational nature and His love for creation), ethics (it helps you learn how to be good to each other as God is good to you), eschatology (it’s a foretaste of what it will be like to be in an intimate relationship with God in heaven forever), revelation (it’s meant to be a relationship that shows the world God’s glory and goodness as He acts in your lives).

Leave your past loyalties. Realize that trust can never fully be established in your marriage unless you sever the bonds of loyalty that controlled or influenced you strongly in the past (your relationship with your parents, other family members, friends, jobs, past boyfriends or girlfriends, etc.). Understand that by no means does this call for breaking off these relationships, but simply setting boundaries designed to protect young trust that is beginning to take root between you and your spouse. Make space for faithfulness. Give yourselves the space you need to build trust without undue intrusions or complications.

Know that marriage should change all aspects of both your lives as you merge them together to create something new. Understand that anything that might compromise the opening of your hearts to each other must be left behind as you pursue intimacy together.

Realize that building trust is a gradual process -- that trust is earned over a lifetime through small moments of faithfulness. Respect your spouse’s privacy by refusing to reveal matters that might cause embarrassment or shame for him or her. Show your spouse that you have the integrity to keep confidences. Keep secrets only between each other; never allow secrets between one of you and someone else.

Establish the primacy of your marriage over relationships with all other people -- forsaking all others for the sake of your spouse. Don’t give into efforts to divide you and your spouse. Make it clear to others that the power to make decisions is in you and your spouse’s hands, working together. Invite your parents and other people to offer their wisdom, but don’t feel obligated to obey their desires.

Share the full details of your pasts with each other so you know your spouse’s story, and he or she knows yours. Then intentionally merge your lives together to pursue a better present and future together.