Keeping a marriage together, close and happy is the goal, but not always easy. If you are not feeling as close as you want to, and you feel like you’ve tried to improve closeness before with few results, you might start to feel helpless. However, you have more power to turn things around than you think.
I often tell my clients that relationships are a system- a change at any level of the system changes the whole system. Like a car engine, if we change out the battery, or the air filters, that change is going to affect the efficiency and performance of the whole engine. The key to changing the system is to find the pieces that are malfunctioning inside of yourself, before you go trying to fix the other person.
Closeness in a relationship starts with you. If your marriage is committed and safe, but distant, look at the following chart to find the pieces inside yourself that you can change for healthy functioning.
picNeed more in depth help to get to healthy emotional intimacy? Here is a resource designed to help achieve healthier intimacy in relationships.
Do you ever feel alone in your marriage?
Do you want to have close relationships, but feel awkward initiating intimacy?
Do you feel like something is missing in your relationships, but you don’t know what it is or how to make it better?
Today, you will learn the THREE ENEMIES of INTIMACY and how to beat them back before they advance any further. Intimacy in relationships is the thing that makes us feel seen, and known and unconditionally accepted. Intimacy is also something that we naturally avoid because of how vulnerable it makes us feel. This vulnerability is the key ingredient to the growth and healing God has for us. Why is intimacy so hard to achieve sometimes? There are internal and external forces that keep us from the intimacy we so desire.
- Fear- Fear of rejection, abandonment and loss of identity are real things that keep us from intimacy with others. These fears keep us trapped in isolation and loneliness. They tell us to “be quiet, don’t say too much,” and “act like nothing’s wrong,” and “don’t have needs- you’re fine.” The fear of rejection keeps us “safe” far away from real relationship. The fear of abandonment keeps us in a cycle of defensiveness and retreat. The fear of identity loss keeps us territorial, fighting for what’s ours, worried about being smothered and controlled. These fear stem from real rejection, abandonment and control in our past. When we were younger, we couldn’t make rejection, abandonment or controlling abuse stop because we were young and weak and needy. But now that we are adults, we don’t have to let those fears win anymore. Now we have the power to hold on to, be kind to and stand up for ourselves. All fear is gone.
- Pride- Wanting to be admired, set above, or viewed as unblemished is a desire that each of us have. Each of us at various times in our lives want to be idolized and thought of as perfect. This desire is largely unconscious because we hide this drive from ourselves. We know that it is wrong to be prideful, or to be put on a pedestal like God, so we unwittingly lie to ourselves about our cravings. The truth is, however, that we all want to be idolized- it’s as human as wanting chocolate or sex or a new Coach bag. Even Jesus was tempted by celebrity status and powerful domain (Matthew 4:8,) but He chose intimacy with God instead. To be admired is to be disconnected. To be idolized is to be one-up with others one-down. We can’t have close companionship when we are trying to look or act flawless to others. Having an accurate view of our selves keeps us from thinking better of ourselves, or worse of ourselves than Jesus does. When we give up our desire to look perfect in other people’s eyes, then true intimacy finds you.
- Shame– Often, we find ourselves hiding from our true selves because we are in denial of just how imperfect we really are. We’d like others to see and believe that we are our ideal selves, but we are not- we are just our REAL selves. We also feel secretly ashamed of our weaknesses and failings. We don’t accept ourselves as mere human because we believe we ought to be super-human. Sometimes, feelings of unworthiness keep us from disclosing our true selves to ourselves and others. Feelings of shame keep us in denial of who we really are, making it impossible for other people to really KNOW us.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Enemies of Intimacy don’t have to win. In fact, each time you pay attention to your inner self, you are practicing intimacy. Each time you accept yourself unconditionally, you practice intimacy. Your spiritual reality can be void of fear, pride and shame- they no longer have the power to separate you from yourself. We may still struggle with fear, pride and shame, but they no longer have ultimate power over us. We now have the power to chose self acceptance.