A while back I was in contact with a young man who was dealing with the hurt that his wife had withdrawn from him—and was no longer able to love him in a way that—for him—was important.
This new juncture had caused for him a disconnection to the intimacy he’d long cherished. And this had now punctuated an inevitable roll-on effect onto the relationship itself. He felt powerless to the hurt. It started affecting how he was loving her back.
Without going into the detail of the impasse, it is necessary to say that all spousal relationships go through almost continual challenges to intimacy.
So, what can we do about them?
Staying on Top in the Intimacy Stakes
I’ve gone into bat for intimacy before—it’s the pinnacle of love arrangements, for all romantic relationships that last past the first year settle inevitably (it’s hoped) into a beautiful groove of intimacy; each partner feeling close to the other as they extend their selfless actions of love day by day.
Intimacy can hereby be seen as the halcyon of spousal relationships; the golden trigger to contentment and longevity-of-commitment in mature individuals that comprise the couple.
INTO – ME – SEE
Intimacy can be thought of as ‘into-me-see,’ as we share of ourselves without slate or barrier, wearing our hearts more and more on our sleeves, trust exuded evermore. Perfect intimacy has no compromise. It allows the other person ‘in’ and an unconditional exchange of care is a great feature of coherent and functional intimacy at the high point of the relationship.
This has to be the goal of spousal relationships—to achieve and sustain it.
... And for the Guy Profiled; What About Him?
The young guy above had a real problem. He’d discussed the issue of importance with his partner, yet she felt she could no longer love him in ‘those’ ways.
And yet, merely the fact that they’d spoken about it was a big thing; that very fact needed to be chalked up as a win!—for them to realise they’d both acted with admirable maturity.
Talking about issues in calm and mature ways is growing intimacy—it is meeting any compromise to it, and ever so certainly reclaiming intimacy back.
From my view of things, he’d done everything he could to raise his concerns with her. She had been honest with him, and assertive. She didn’t want to do things that weren’t ‘her’ anymore—perhaps they’d never been ‘her’. This was good. Anyone we love who feels compelled to give love to us in ways that don’t feel right or comfortable for them is compromising their own self-intimacy (a.k.a. identity) and this can only eventually have a bad effect on the relationship.
In effect, we’re encouraging falsity in our partner this way and their identity is even under threat if they chronically live denying themselves this way. This is clearly not loving our partners to the best that they deserve.
When my young friend realised this, he suddenly understood, the penny dropped, and he made the brave choice to forego his ‘need’ and to respect his partner’s courage to assert herself—and be honest for the benefit of the relationship. She was to be admired by him.
And when she saw this turn-around in him she was surprised and impressed at his love and understanding—it was an intimacy watershed moment for both of them individually and collectively.
Intimacy and Surrender
To maintain intimacy in the spousal arrangement requires surrender.
The more we surrender to assertive and (occasionally) selfish overtures in our mature relationships, and unconditionally so, the better the chances we have of retaining and growing our intimacy.
Compromises to intimacy are entirely avoidable provided we’re aware of them, as they encroach upon our feeling and thinking, and we’re humble enough to listen to a God-infused sense of reason pointing us to ‘the way home’ in our responses of attitude.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.