Who doesn’t want to create more intimacy in our relationships? Why is this such a difficult thing in marriage?
When couples and singles see me for private counseling sessions, intimacy is certainly one of the issues they want to work on. Intimacy begins with YOU!
The first thing I like to do is to define our terms. When some people talk about having more intimacy, they sometimes mean more emotional intimacy. Some people mean more sexual intimacy. And some refer to both the emotional and physical aspects of more intimacy.
Let’s begin with the emotional aspects needed to create more intimacy:
A long time ago, I heard a clever definition of intimacy, re-languaged to Into-Me-I See. This defines intimacy first as an inner process of self-discovery and self-knowledge.
Now let’s apply this lens in the context of an intimate partnership. In this partnership, we begin to discover new parts of ourselves. Or perhaps we uncover parts that are gradually revealed to us in reaction to our partner and the relationship. We can begin to share these discoveries and insights with our partner. Such sharing can be a very exciting process.
To me, being in partnership provides the environment, the soil for me to grow, for me to discover parts of myself that I otherwise wouldn’t know. This comes from the safety and the trust that builds over time that allows me to become more open and more vulnerable. With more of me available, I can share more intimacy!
So my partner is the stimulus to me, allowing me to uncover parts of myself that I would never have discovered on my own. Some of these are the so-called good parts; some are what we label the bad parts. If we take away the labels and judgments, they are all parts of myself, parts that need to be revealed and illuminated, so that I can make choices about which parts I want to feed and water and nourish and which parts I want to let hibernate, and go dormant.
And in a loving, accepting partnership, I can allow those parts to come out as they are stimulated, and I can share them with myself and my partner. That is true intimacy to me: discovering parts of myself I didn’t know I had and sharing them with someone.
That is certainly how we can create more intimacy and true growth. This is how I view emotional intimacy.
Sometimes we use the term “intimacy” as a polite way of speaking of sexuality and physical connection with a partner. The sexual act, and sexual connection CAN be an extremely intimate connection. It isn’t necessarily, yet it CAN be. And in the context of a loving partnership, the emotional intimacy can fuel the sexual intimacy. And the sexual intimacy can fuel the emotional intimacy. And they can feed upon each other to create an expansion and growth to the relationship, and MORE intimacy!
You know the old saying that women need love to connect to their sexuality and men need sex to connect to their love? While I avoid generalizations, there is some truth to this statement. Perhaps you have experienced this in some of your relationships.
I’ve spoken before about the two styles of connecting to sexuality: the autogenic, which is more typically masculine, which is more the direct physical connection, and the psychogenic, which is more typically feminine, which is the mental, emotional connection. For some, desire creates arousal. For others, arousal creates desire. Both are true when they are true. Both work. Both are valid.
To bring more sexual intimacy to your relationship, I think it is good to take both routes. Sometimes it is good to surrender to the physical and let the pure arousal take you over. Sometimes it is good to create desire, and build up to that arousal.
Again, sexual intimacy, like emotional intimacy is about discovering new parts of yourself and sharing them with your partner. So stretch and try on new attitudes, new ways of being together sexually.
I’m a believer in what I’ve called “all day foreplay.” Start in the morning by telling your partner how you feel about them, and what you’d like to be doing with them when you come home from work. Perhaps leave them a little note with more of your thoughts. Maybe later, send them a text or even a picture! Sexting (sexy texting) can be a VERY effective form of foreplay. Next, maybe an email or a sexy telephone message. Stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone here, maybe just a little bit.
And when you get home, set the stage even more, whether it’s with the traditional flowers and candy or an erotic gift (or toy) or maybe another card or an original poem. Building the anticipation and tension is always so nice, especially when you know you’ll be relieving that tension later on.
This article originally appeared, in slightly different format, at The Passion Doctor.
Photo by Miss Turner