Living Alone in a Marriage for Built for Two

Intimacy is something we all want and need, but it is often the last thing we prioritize in our busy lives. Marriage partners often feel more like passing ships in the night, than two loving friends and partners. Many couples’ mantra is “Divide and conquer,” not “One for all, and all for one.” Given the busy and complicated lives we live, some dedicated time to improve marriage intimacy is time well spent.

True Intimacy between friend or spouse is: sharing your experience with him/her without fearing judgement or rejection, and sharing his/her experience without judging or trying to change/fix him/her. You are able to accept your friend fully even if she is very different with a very different experience of your relationship. You are able to share deeply with your spouse without fear of being judged for your feelings. You are able to listen to your spouse’s feelings and experience without trying to change him. You feel seen, known and unconditionally accepted.

If your marriage is emotionally distant or lonely, ask yourself some of these questions:

  1. would you rather “be right” or “be loved”?

  2. do you have trouble admitting you’re wrong for fear of looking foolish, weak, ignorant or bad?

  3. do you avoid opening up to your partner for fear of being judged?

  4. do you avoid closeness with your partner because of past loss in your life?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you probably stand in your own way of true and meaningful intimacy in your marriage. To be truly seen, known and accepted doesn’t just happen without insight and effort.

Steps to Achieve True Intimacy in Relationships

1. First, offer this kind of love to yourself. You won’t be able to love someone intimately until you’ve offered intimate love to yourself. For me, this means coming to God and accepting his unconditional love in the face of mistakes, failures and shortcomings. At the time I want to most deny, lie about or hide from my mistake, I try to turn to God instead. When I know that I am accepted and loved no matter what, I am able to offer myself this same kind of love and forgiveness. God’s love changes me. This is intimacy with the self- seeing myself as valuable, knowing the truth about myself, and loving myself unconditionally. You know- just the way God does.

2. Second, Show Up to Your Relationships. Intimacy requires vulnerability. It requires that we show up fully, exposed and real, to the people in our lives. It means instead of using sarcasm, criticism or nagging, we use wholehearted language with our friends or spouse telling them exactly what we want. Instead of, “Oh look who finally decided to come home,” we say, “I missed you today, I want to spend time with you.” Instead of passive-aggressively running the other way in an argument, we get to the heart of the matter and resolve it with compassion. Instead of picking fights and criticizing our spouse’s faults, we share our feelings with vulnerability and strength.

3. Thirdly, Take A Risk Even When There’s No Guarantee It Will Pay Off. Being vulnerable is risky business. Seeking intimacy with others is risky, too. It truly is Walking by Faith. You don’t know if your partner will return your vulnerability. You don’t know if showing up to your life will bring criticism or judgement. You don’t know if your efforts toward greater intimacy will backfire. That is the Faith Walk- going where Love calls you to go, even when there is no guarantee that it will work. Your friend or spouse may abandon you still. She may not join you in this level of intimacy and may choose a different direction. That hurts, but it’s ok, because you’re going to be ok. When you are abandoned or feeling rejected, God doesn’t abandon you, and you won’t abandon yourself.

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My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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