Tag Archives: emotional intimacy

How well do you know your spouse?

flight map morguefileDo you really know what’s going on inside your spouse’s thought world? What he or she is most concerned about day to day? What most worries them or causes fear or anxiety?

Couples who understand their partner’s inner world have emotional intimacy—knowledge about one another’s deep feelings. The Gottman Institute calls this skill “Enhancing your love map” and names it one of the principals on the road to happy marriages. (Stay tuned for more principals in future posts.)

We probably think we know more than we do about what is going on in the mind of our spouse. That’s why it’s important to have regular time together to discuss things other than the to-do list or the kids’ challenges.

Remember your dating days, when hours could be spent sharing who you were, and listening intensely to learn everything you could about your date? We need to carve out regular time to maintain that connection.

One challenge is that most couples spend the majority of their days apart, seemingly living in different “worlds”. Whether one or both spouses work, invite your partner to understand your work world by sharing your challenges, successes and concerns, your annoying coworkers or what you really think of your boss. If you work at home, share your feelings, joys and challenges as a homemaker.

In addition to the day to day, discuss life goals, fears, and wishes. Be sensitive to insights you receive. If your wife is fearful of being compared to her mother, don’t use this information in an argument. If your husband is worried he is not a “good enough” provider, build him up in this area. If you both have always wanted to see the Grand Canyon or spend time in wine country, talk about how to make your dreams a reality.

Talk about what you hope the future looks like—for you, for your children, for something you’re passionate about. Consider what you learn to be privileged and private, part of your intimacy. Keep in mind that goals and dreams can and probably will change.

How will you enhance your love map this year? What part of the day or week would be most convenient for you to connect with your spouse?

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

What Men and Women Always Need More of in Relationships

“Happy Life: Happy Marriage” Series

I was hoping someone would disagree with my post We Can’t Get No Satisfaction and argue that they are completely satisfied with all that life has to offer. However, if that person exists, he or she has not joined our discussion.  (I think people who have learned to be content in their circumstances certainly do exist, but it’s not likely they could stifle their unmet desires entirely.)

The interesting, yet challenging, part of our inability to be satisfied is that men and women tend to differ as to their areas of primary insatiability. The inability to understand the areas in which your spouse is likely to be dissatisfied can certainly bring conflict into your marriage, and probably already has.

Men and women in general have equally insatiable natures, says Dennis Prager, author of Happiness is a Serious Problem. They share many areas in which they may be unsatisfied, such as material wealth or finding a meaningful purpose. However, each gender has one particular area that is plagued with insatiability. Prager says for women, that area is emotional intimacy; for men, it is sexual variety.  (He goes on to explain that social influence causes men to search for different sexual partners.) Both of these longings are equally strong and can cause dissatisfaction and discord in the relationship.

Prager says the solution lies in first understanding one’s own sex. Much of our frustration may be related to believing that we can attain the unattainable—the ability to be satisfied with something that few can be satisfied about. We must understand our own desires, and then try to understand our partner’s frustrated desires. Within reason, we should attempt to fulfill our spouse’s needs. We also should be understanding when our partner isn’t able to satisfy our desires.

For example, a woman even in a good marriage with a loving husband may be frustrated that she does not receive enough emotional intimacy. Even if she has expressed her need and maybe even increases the amount of emotional intimacy she shares with her spouse, she may never be completely satisfied with their level of intimacy. If she is aware that she can’t be completely fulfilled in this area, perhaps she can appreciate what she does have with her partner. However, the man has a responsibility to attempt to understand her, and work to establish a deeper relationship with her, allowing for time with her and making romantic gestures such as loving touches, giving flowers or other acts that demonstrate love.

Men may also benefit from understanding it is not in their nature to be satisfied sexually. A man may be setting himself up for failure if he thinks he can fulfill his desire for sexual variety by having an extramarital affair, says Prager. “A sexual affair doesn’t quell a man’s urge for variety for anything approaching a year. Shortly after his affair, he is back to sexual square one.” Sharing a good sex life is important to the marriage, even if his desires may not be entirely satisfied. “The man must know that even in the best circumstances—frequent and satisfying sexual relationship with a partner whom he loves—he will still walk around (especially in contemporary Western societies, with their sexual bombardments) with sexual frustration.” Reminding himself of his insatiable sexual nature may help the man appreciate the sex life he shares with this wife.

Understanding how to be happy within marriage means we may have to fight natural impulses to be unhappy or dissatisfied. We can control our mind and remind ourselves of the positive aspects in our relationship. Being grateful, and expressing that gratitude has been repeatedly proven to boost relationships. It is possible to be happy in a relationship, even when we are not completely satisfied.

Do you agree or disagree with the areas of insatiability for men and women? Are they difficult areas to overcome?

Interesting Links:
Check out cool giveaways this week at the Dating Divas.

A bad marriage is worse for her than for him from The Generous Husband. It’s true that research shows a bad marriage impacts the wife emotionally and physically more than the husband.

Photo credit: ©Pavel Losevsky/PhotoXpress.com

How Do You Define Intimacy?

What is conjured up in your mind when you hear the word “intimacy”? Chances are the word intimacy has different connotations to you depending on your gender. I’ve read some surveys that suggest women tend to think of the emotional side of intimacy, and men tend to think of physical intimacy. The book 13 Keys to Unlocking Intimacy in Your Marriage by Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo discusses six types of intimacy and how you can achieve them all. I’ve enjoyed their blog, One Extraordinary Marriage for some time; check it out.

I would have been hard pressed to come up with all these types, but I agree they are all important to a strong marriage:

  • Emotional Intimacy (sharing feelings, thoughts, desires)
  • Intellectual Intimacy (common life goals, open communication, mutual understanding)
  • Spiritual Intimacy (shared religious beliefs and observed religious practices)
  • Recreational Intimacy (having fun together and sharing quality time)
  • Financial Intimacy (honesty about all money matters)
  • Physical Intimacy (all physical touch from holding hands to sex)

The advice Alisa and Tony give about how they achieved these six types of intimacy includes many of their mistakes along their journey, from addiction to pornography to finding themselves $50,000 in debt. In that regard, they don’t set themselves up as the perfect couple, but rather a couple who is hoping others can learn from some of their early relationship errors. 

Tony and Alisa offer useful tips from setting boundaries with your parents to negotiating how to spend free time in a way you will both enjoy. The book offers the male and female perspectives on numerous topics, so both genders of readers can relate. It also provides a section for answering questions about your own relationship, which can foster a discussion between you and your spouse. Whether you are young in your marriage or need to revisit some of the positive aspects you used to enjoy, these concepts are key to an enjoyable relationship.

If you’re interested in learning more about these six types of intimacy and how to unlock their potential, you can find the ebook here. (They offer a traditional book, audio book or eBook formats.) Tony also offers an online course called Blow Up My Marriage to help boost your marriage by focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.

My feeling is you can send your marriage into a downward spiral if you spend all your time picking apart your weaknesses and focusing on your perpetual conflicts. Every relationship has these. Instead, focus on what you love about your spouse and how you can grow from there. That is not to say that we don’t all have room to improve. Just don’t tear each other down every day, or you may lose that “lovin’ feeling.”

Fess up, what kind of intimacy did you think of when you read the headline?

Photo Credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

Love-Building Exercises Part I

Is it possible to increase your closeness or feelings of love by using scientifically tested techniques? Robert Epstein, PhD, thinks so. “There is a definite fix for our poor performance in romantic relationships,” he says. The psychologist and longtime researcher is writing a book on how people can learn to love. He recently shared some proven techniques for deliberately building emotional intimacy in a January/February 2010 magazine article for Scientific American.

Epstein says so many marriages fail in large part because we have poor skills for maintaining relationships and “highly unrealistic expectations.” He warns that physical attraction is sometimes confused with love, creating unsuitable unions. So, be careful with whom you share these techniques!

Epstein studied other researchers’ results on love builders and carried out some of his own. He plans to teach others how to use what is known about how people learn to love one another. The key to many of his recommended strategies is that they increase feelings of vulnerability, and that increases intimacy levels. Other intimacy builders include sharing adventures, secrets, personal space and jokes.

Here are the first three techniques. I’ll try them if you will. Maybe plan one of these activities on a date night, and let me know how it works for you. Keep an open mind. I’ll provide some of his other suggestions in a future post.

1. Two as One. Embrace each other gently. Begin to sense your partner’s breathing and gradually try to synchronize your breathing with his or hers. Epstein says after a few minutes, you may start to feel as if you have merged.

2. Soul Gazing. He reports excellent results with this technique, even with perfect strangers. One caveat is it must be mutual gazing; staring at someone doesn’t count! Stand or sit about two feet apart. Look deeply into each other’s eyes, trying to look at the very core of your beings. Do this for about two minutes, and discuss what you saw.

3. Monkey Love. Sit or stand fairly close to one another, then start moving your hands, arms, and legs any way you like—but in a fashion that perfectly imitates your partner. Epstein calls this fun and challenging.

See Part II with more techniques.

Share your experience if you are brave enough to try these. What do you think about using psychological techniques to increase your love and intimacy? Do you believe they work? Have you tried them?