Why Building Intimacy in Marriage is Vital
The hardest quality to build into a marriage is intimacy, both sexual and psychological. Our culture over the last 25 years has emphasized the sexual at the expense of the psychological.
Intimacy is a fundamental need for human beings. It means being able to share our innermost self with someone else and having that sharing reciprocated. In watching what damages marriage, I am most impressed that withholding who we are and how we react has become the kiss of death.
We are very fragile to injury in relationships in which we feel the most vulnerable. Many people try to control the level of intimacy because of fear of being hurt. For most of us, the single, deepest experience of being known in all our strengths and flaws is in the marital relationship.
How to develop and strengthen marital intimacy deserves the attention of both parties. Many people feel they are not finding the fulfillment they had hoped for in their marriage. They have a sense of aloneness, emptiness or just something missing. You may also be married to someone who does not need the same degree of intimacy that you do. What can be done about this?
Some questions to ask are: “How well do we know ourselves?” and “How have we felt our spouse has responded to us?” In my experience as a psychologist, the reluctance to report our reactions to each other hinders marital growth. Now some things will always remain trivial and do not deserve your verbal reactions, e.g., how your spouse manages a household chore is probably not worth talking about unless it consistently irritates you.
When expectations are unconscious, uncommunicated, unrealistic, or unreasonable, you can feel betrayed when you have not been. You need to examine the validity of your own expectations about a relationship. You may have wanted or expected something from another person, but he or she never agreed to give it. Believing that if your spouse really loved you, he/she should be able to read your mind or that partners in “good” relationships rarely disagree are myths.
What you do with irritation is crucial. Many times the temptation arises to blow such reactions off, but the resentment barometer rises. The debris of irritation can collect into a sturdy pile. Given sufficient time, enough material can get between partners that the distance increases and the silence becomes very telling.