You want your romantic relationship to thrive, right? We all do. I’ve only been married for five years, but I feel like I’ve learned the secret to it. Perhaps that sounds arrogant but Rachel and I are thriving, and I’m proud of that – just like I would be proud to finish a marathon or earn a degree. Am I shocked by how much effort it actually takes? YES. But when you’re dating and falling in love, you just don’t know what you don’t know. And you think it’s going to be a breeze because of all the “feels.” Um, no. It doesn’t work that way long-term.
So, what’s the secret?
Yep, it’s that simple. But also much harder than we think.
I’m happy to talk with you about physical intimacy, but this isn’t the place for that. Here, I’d like to explore three keys to emotional intimacy based on my experience. Please be honest and let me know if they ring true in your own life.
We have to constantly be honest with each other about everything. I have never lied to Rachel, and five years later she knows that if I articulate something, she can bank on it being the truth. That’s related to anything – what I bought, who I’m talking to, how I’m feeling, how my heart is. Telling the truth at all times to my wife isn’t actually a struggle. What is hard for me (and, perhaps, for you) is demonstrating weakness. I don’t want to be judged, I don’t want her to think I can’t be the man she needs me to be, I don’t want what I reveal to be brought up in the future and used against me, and I don’t want her to think less of me. But for some reason she needs me to be painfully vulnerable with her (I logically don’t understand this, but I just do it). Maybe it’s because it frees her to be painfully vulnerable with me? All I know is she wants it, she calls it intimacy, and it makes her heart feel closer to my heart. Can I say that when her heart feels closer to my heart, she also wants my body? Because that’s the truth. I would never manipulate the situation (ever!) because that would be lying, but it’s a wonderful byproduct that brings us even closer together.
Believe the best about your partner
When you’re struggling, or just really tired, you might think that what they say and what they do is not marked by good intentions. Please stiff-arm this thought. Reject it outright. Don’t allow it to get a foothold in your perspective toward them. It’s just so dangerous. Maybe they did mean to hurt you in some sort of passive-aggressive or selfish way – but if they have a conscience, I am sure they regret it and know it wasn’t right. But if you start to believe they have negative intentions towards you, you’ll start acting with negative intentions towards them. And that will never lead to healing and restoration, but rather a very sick cycle of that ends in a destroyed relationship. Someone has to take the high road first. Let it be you. Lead the way.
Put in the time
When you were dating, you had no problem putting in the time because you wanted to win their heart. You still had responsibilities then, but you prioritized the relationship. And I’m sure you have more responsibilities now – at work, with kids, with health concerns, etc. – I get that and can relate to that. But as you’ve heard a million times (because it’s true!!!!) we prioritize that which is important to us. Show your partner they are important to you by freely giving them your time and attention, no questions asked, no debts incurred. Do it out of love first and foremost, but also do it to save yourself from heartache in the future.
A quick side note: many of us want intimacy with the Lord. Frankly, I desperately need to be feel close and connected to Him so I don’t lose the best parts of me, so I don’t lose hope in His master plan. I need this even more than intimacy with Rachel. Well, the three keys work here too. God wants us to be honest with Him not because we’re giving Him new information, but because it keeps us in real, raw conversation with Him. God wants us to believe the best about Him because when we doubt Him and His goodness, we make bad choices. This is the story of humanity. This is my story, and it’s likely yours as well. Finally, we have to put in the time to know Him better and more deeply. That’s basically how you become best friends with someone. It’s what needs to happen.
Back to you and your partner: You can do this, I promise. You just have to want it bad enough because you foresee how valuable it is. Most people wait until things get really rough, and then attempt to recover. It’s always possible with God’s grace, but the sooner you start, the better. Maybe chat with your partner today about how you really want to be more intentional about cultivating emotional intimacy in your relationship by pursuing honesty, always believing the best about them, and by putting in more time to spend together. I’m here if I can help in any way.
Image source: https://bit.ly/2IkdwyP