Kevin here. . .
I was talking to a friend about our blog, and he shared his desire for increased intimacy in his 25-year marriage. He said he really meant emotional intimacy, not only sex, although he wanted more of that as well, LOL.
Their kids are gone, and he finds watching TV with his wife in the evenings unsatisfying. He is lonely and craving deeper intimacy, the kind of connection they had early in their marriage. But he has no idea how he can get there, and at first, neither did I.
Listening to him, I felt paralyzed as it reminded me of the traumatic years at the end of my previous marriage. I was hungry, no starving, for connection and intimacy. and it just wasn’t happening. I demanded it, I begged for it, trying everything I could think of to engage my wife. But she turned away. She had lost faith in me, and I suspect she didn’t really want that much intimacy anyway. After years of trying, I left. So when my friend talked about wanting more intimacy, I was thrown back into that feeling of helplessness.
After becoming single, I learned much about forging deep connections. The Tantra classes and workshops I took taught me how to be present with another person and how to nourish that connection through genuine, honest communication. I sucked up those teachings like the starving man I was. That experience allowed me to form the most intimate relationship of my life, with my Beloved Vicki. So, I guess I do have some ideas about how my friend might rekindle his relationship.
Intimacy breeds intimacy
If my friend wants more intimacy, he should begin by being emotionally intimate with his wife. Most importantly, he needs to start talking about how he feels–really feels. He must share his fears and desires, his feelings and dreams in a genuine, heartfelt manner.
You cannot demand intimacy. That never works, and it scares people, so they shut down. Your lover needs to see you being honest and vulnerable so that they feels safe enough to be vulnerable in return. And, don’t flood them with your emotions out of the blue or all at once! Start subtly by sharing one emotion and listen carefully to their responses.
Many of us have been closed off, so shut down even from ourselves that we need help uncovering our deepest feelings in order to share them. I personally believe that individual therapy is a great place to start. You can’t fix others, but you can make yourself a better person, the most open lover you can be. Seeing a therapist can be a huge help.
Intimacy involves touch
My friend would also profit from rediscovering the magic of touch. Many times in this blog, we’ve discussed the huge benefit touch has for our health, hearts, minds, bodies, and souls. The truth is that loving touch is essential for intimacy. I am not talking about sex here. I am talking about the sweet intimacy of holding hands, hugging, and just sitting side by side touching. But be careful because some people see touching like this as seduction, a prelude to sex. That’s great, but first, learn to touch for its own sake.
Once again, I want to encourage you to give Loving Massage. Perhaps start with foot rubs, or shoulder and neck massages, at the end of the day. Whatever suits you both, but make it clear that the massage is not a seduction—it is simply the gift of pleasure, with no reciprocation expected. Perhaps a massage table is in your future.
Resume greeting each other and parting with melting hugs and soulful gazes. I bet you did that when you were first in love. Do you value your lover less now after all these years or have you just forgotten to show each other how much you care? Express sincere gratitude for their contributions to your relationship. . .and do it regularly. Slowly, humbly learn to verbalize more. In long-term relationships, many of us let that slide. And, we all crave appreciation.
Intimacy requires an open mind
There are intimacy-building tools out there for couples. The “36 questions to make you fall in love with anyone” comes to mind. When the two of you are in a good mood, when you are both feeling safe and secure explore these together. Even after years together, I suspect you will be surprised and perhaps shocked by each other’s responses.
And here, the fun begins. Can you be accepting and curious even when you are triggered by your beloved’s responses? Because here’s the rub. . .intimacy can trigger us. We may be scared, confused, even hurt by our Lover when we discover what they really feel. And, we have to let that go. We must try to figure out why we are triggered rather than be outraged by their responses. If you want closeness, you must learn to deal with it, and sadly many of us have forgotten—or have yet to learn—how to do this intimate dance.
The challenge of moving
Victoria and I are in the process of selling our house and moving. And boy do we get triggered! I think our most frequent thought has been “You are doing it all wrong!” Even looking at houses online can be tough. Vick worries I will force her into a house she doesn’t like, and I think she is rejecting places for ridiculous reasons and wants to spend more than we can afford! Pretty standard worries for a couple, I guess.
But ya know, we both hang onto the fact that going through this will actually make us more intimate. When we see the other stressed, we make an effort to support them and that way we take good care of each other. When we recognize we are triggered, we stand down. This is not always easy. The knowledge that we are both committed to protecting our love and intimacy first helps a lot. And the thought—that when this is complete we will be a stronger couple—is a bright flame lighting our way!
Victoria here. . .
Great post, Kevin! I’m so glad you wrote about intimacy. And, I sympathize with your friend’s frustration—it is all too easy to let intimacy slip away until two people who once loved each other are little more than roommates.
You are teaching me how to protect and maintain our intimacy and make our love the priority in everything we do. When I was younger and more captivated by the demands of family and career, I sacrificed my primary relationships to outside things. Now, I am learning to protect us, this third addition to you and me that I so love.
Controlling and blaming destroy intimacy
Nonetheless, I’m aware that I have this seeming need to control what Kevin does. I can usually think before I speak and then let it go later. Several years into our relationship, I realized I am a blamer, and, of course, I never thought of myself as that kind of person. Yet when things went amiss, I blamed Kevin. Turns out that half the time, I was responsible for whatever it was. So now, I just listen to myself lay blame, and then ignore it. Anyway, it’s a nasty habit, and I’m glad to be rid of it.
This doesn’t mean that when we began looking at new houses in earnest I hadn’t stopped wanting to control things. The thing is, I hate moving. Will I like where we’re going? Will my possessions get broken in transit? What about this and that, all the little details suddenly carry a life-or-death urgency. . .and I don’t always catch myself.
So what’s helped me keep love in the foreground and our intimacy intact is what Kevin said when we began this moving adventure: We’re both going to get stressed and triggered, but we’ll work through it each time, and when it’s over, we’ll be more connected and more deeply in love.
Well, that works for me! It gives me a framework to fall back on when I get upset and fall out of our relationship into my fearful ego state. I don’t want to be angry or stressed out—it happens mostly when I’m triggered by past losses and disappointments. I can’t always stop that gut response, but I can remember love and go there instead of reacting from fear. We always have the power of choice. . .I hope you choose love.
How do you keep intimacy alive in your relationship? Let us know in the comments below!