Intimacy is more than the physical joining of two bodies engaged in sex. To quote Matt Hogan, “A complete intimate relationship is the bringing together and melding of two bodies, minds, and spirits into a dance of close personal relations and expression that allows both individuals to express the totality of who they are.”
Real intimacy is scary. Showing up as your authentic self leaves you open to rejection. So, it’s easy to revert to something that feels safer—sex. But sex without connection often feels empty. And, if it’s the only way you engage with your wife, it can be a lot like eating popcorn. Tasty but ultimately not satisfying. Not to mention, it is often off-putting for her.
For those of you in sexless marriages, I hear you when you say you’d rather have a diet of popcorn than nothing. But settling for less than a full meal, and a tasty one at that, is not a recipe for either personal or marital happiness.
Real intimacy is built out of deep connection. Being physical is the way a lot of men open to their emotions. Unfortunately, for a lot of women, it’s the opposite. They need the feeling of emotional safety before they can open up physically.
So how can you bridge this divide? By creating opportunities for greater connection. You can do this in three ways:
1. Be fully present. Set aside 15-20 minutes a day to be a couple. Be in the moment. Be in connection with yourself and with her. Remove all distractions, including the children. Manage the urge to “do” something. Let go of any expectations.
2. Be open. Notice what she looks like. Listen to what she says. Stay with all thoughts and feelings, both hers and yours. Don’t judge, either you or her. Take in what fits and be curious about what doesn’t. Sit with any confusion or discomfort without seeking an answer or solution. There will be time for that later.
3. Be generous. With your time and your attention. Give her the benefit of the doubt by thinking the best of her. Help her to be present by dealing with something that distracts her. Don’t ask what you can do to help, find something and just do it.
These might seem awkward and forced at first. That’s okay. You might have to start out with just once a week and that’s okay too. You might not always get it right. Again, that’s okay. The point is that you are trying. Everything gets better with practice.
While it’s important to keep your eye on creating more connection, it’s critical not to be goal-oriented. Don’t judge each interaction in terms of success or failure. Do pay attention to how your relationship changes in small ways.
How she looks at you. The tone of her voice. Her openness to receiving non-sexual touch. Her willingness to reach out to you.
The more consistent you are in making time to be together in an intentional way, the more connected you will feel and the deeper the intimacy you will experience.
You will both see and be seen. And that is the true manifestation of intimacy.
Previously published on foundationscoachingnc
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