Intimacy is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts in relationships. Somewhere down the line intimacy and sex became interchangeable words, many people believing they are one and the same. And while intimacy may include sex, it involves much more. Intimacy encompasses an entire way of being, acting, and thinking. It is a place of commitment, vulnerability, and trust. Intimacy is when both spouses understand each other while simultaneously feeling understood. People can be married for years and never truly be intimate with each other. You can find help right now for your marriage by contacting a professional marriage counselor on our site. Theravive is pro-marriage, and we believe that your relationship is worth saving.
"We Are Not Close Anymore" - The Difficulty of Maintaining Intimacy in Marriage
Unfortunately, for the most part, we all carry emotional baggage with us before we even enter committed relationships that when we do, we cannot allow ourselves to trust or be open with our partner. Consciously or unconsciously, we are always waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop; meanwhile we shut ourselves off from experiencing what we all innately desire — a partnership in which we can simply be, without fear or mistrust. When a relationship lacks intimacy, one or both parties involved can feel unwanted, anxious, lonely, inadequate, depressed, rejected, resentful, and angry just to name a few of the many emotions that surface. When this happens, the relationship is headed for absolute failure.
When we are born, we come into this world as a clean slate. As babies we are completely vulnerable in every sense of the word. Each day however, life gives us clues on how to act and react in the world around us by providing life lessons that shape our perspectives. The older we get and the more lessons we learn, the more our egos develop, eventually dictating how open or guarded we become. When we finally enter into a committed relationship, we bring all of these experiences with us. And for most of us, we tend to focus more on the negative experiences that suggest self-preservation rather than openness and vulnerability, which will ultimately lead us back to that blissful state of complete trust we experienced at birth.
Until we are able to rid ourselves of our old patterns and ways of reacting, we will see intimacy in one of two ways: we will either crave intimacy in an attempt to make up for the lack of intimacy we felt growing up or we will push it away in order to avoid feeling the pain of the past. Ironically, both types of people are after the same end result, they just go about it in opposite directions — neither of which is healthy or effective. For example, if you are the type of person that craves the feeling of intimacy, you will tend to smother your partner in neediness. You will try and fill your own feelings of desperation and emptiness through your spouse, something that will ultimately cause them to back off, ironically causing more neediness on your part and more retreating on theirs. This cyclical dance has no happy ending and neither partner ever gets what they want or need from the relationship.
On the other hand, if you are the type of person that avoids intimacy, you may commit to a relationship on the outside but inside, where real intimacy resides, you will fear getting close because it represents vulnerability, a place you have no intention of going. Either situation is destined to leave you unfulfilled, with the feeling that you are missing a vital connection in your relationship.
First of all, the only thing we ever have control over in life is our own feelings and reactions. While intimacy involves more than one person, simply changing your perspective and response to any given situation can make a world of difference to the relationship. If you can’t first tear down the walls that keep you from experiencing intimacy, it really doesn’t matter what your partner does — it will never be enough. Couples can most definitely work through their intimacy issues together, but as individuals, you must also look at your own issues that contributed to the lack of intimacy, and fear of being vulnerable.
Generally, if you are unhappy, if you feel alone, empty, depressed, resentful, or angry in your relationship, it is a sign there are unresolved underlying issues for which counseling can be beneficial. As cliché as it sounds, we do have to accept ourselves first before we can accept another person into our lives. Intimacy involves vulnerability and trust. It involves two people reaching down into the core of their beings and allowing the other person in with no fear or regret. Intimacy with another person is one of the most rewarding things we will ever experience in life. Given our pasts, this can be a very scary ordeal however, which is why so few couples are truly intimate. Counseling can give you the tools to put your life into perspective and restore your past issues, small or large as they may be, so you can finally open the doors to a satisfying, intimate relationship.
While intimacy is a unique connection between two people, its successful beginning is with the individual and their ability to be open, vulnerable, and to trust. Counselling provides individuals a process within a safe environment to explore and discover the issues that cause a lack of intimacy in marriage. Many times past hurts where our trust has been broken or our openness taken for granted result in us protecting our heart by putting up barriers to stop anyone from coming in and causing further damage.
Your Theravive counsellor recognizes the fear that accompanies the thought of being open and vulnerable with your spouse, and ready to understand him or her, especially if some of this hurt has been caused by them. Initially, the counselor works with you to resolve the pain and hurt from past experiences. This is a very personal and raw aspect of working through what has caused the shut down of emotion. The second component of this healing process is to work through the hurt with your spouse. This includes forgiving the specific events that have caused the hurt. And finally, your counselor will work to restore intimacy by providing very practical tools and events, also called relational building blocks, that you and your husband or wife can do together. These the things that you first did together when you originally met; they are what first drew you together. Drawing off of your unique relationship, your counsellor will draw out a solid plan that will, over the long run, rebuild the gaps that have developed in your relationship.
We want to ensure that when each spouse is ready to work together to rebuild intimacy it is within a safe environment and with patience and respect. Rebuilding intimacy takes time and positive experiences where can be reestablished and validated. Whether you are trying to resolve the hurts and issues that have resulted in a loss of intimacy in your marriage or want to establish a higher, new level of closeness with your spouse, your Theravive counselor is there to encourage and support you towards greater closeness and deeper understanding in your marriage.
Although depression is a very specific medical condition, we are all individuals with unique chemical make-ups, tolerances to stress, habits, and personalities that ultimately affect the severity and duration of the mood states we may experience. As such, despondency can manifest in many ways. For the most part however, there are three typical forms in which there can also be a range of variations and symptoms.
If you need a therapist to help you, we have a large selection of online therapists who are professional and licensed counselors, able to help you right where you are over the phone, via email, or webcam/messenger. If you prefer face to face counseling, please use our therapist directory and find a city close to you with a therapist who can meet your needs.
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