Posts Tagged: spouse

The Enemies of Intimacy: and How to Work Through Them

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Intimacy: The Thing You Wanted but Didn’t Get

Are you tired of feeling distant from the people you love- closed off and shut out? Do you desire closer connection but find that time, stress and negative emotions get in the way?

Well, good morning to all my favorite people in the world! I’m glad you clicked. Today I’m starting a four part series on Intimacy: Intimacy with ourselves, and with the people we love. Over the next month we will cover 1)What is True Intimacy and How to Get It, 2) The Key Ingredients You Need to Spark Intimacy in Your Relationships, 3)The Enemies of Intimacy and How to Avoid Them, and 4) How to Be Your Own Best Friend When Loneliness is Knocking.

Intimacy is something we all want and need. We need to be seen as valuable, known deeply, and loved unconditionally. We need these things in order to become the best versions of ourselves, but we sometimes get in our own way of getting the intimacy we want.

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

What does it take to have this kind of intimacy with others? It takes Sacred Ground Living.

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.

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.

I call this Sacred Ground Living.

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.

Sacred Ground Living is being able to accept yourself just as you are, and pursue others with love. It is receiving God’s love for yourself so deeply that you can sacrificially love others. It is the hard choice to act in truth instead of avoiding difficult conversations. Sacred Ground Living is the kind of living where you can look at yourself in the mirror with conviction and grace to say, “I can go to bed with YOU every night.”

Taking Back the Control in Relationships

Good Morning to the Shiniest Stars in my Universe!

I received a lot of feedback on the last post about when things in life seem out of your control. It must have hit a nerve, (wha??? life feeling out of control?? Never!!) so let’s dig in a little more.

Relationships have the power to uproot our hidden control issues. You know, like the way your spouse drives the car, loads the dishwasher and disciplines the kids. It’s not the way YOU would do it, and you may even feel compelled to comment on it (No, not you!!) How do you feel when your teenager walks out the door looking like she just got out of bed (because she did)? or your husband spends a bunch of money without you knowing (no, that never happens)? Or your co-worker throws you under the bus during a meeting (with the boss)? How do you respond to these assaults to your better self?

The better part of you wants to give people freedom to feel how they need to feel, do what they need to do, and be who they need to be. You want that freedom for yourself, and you want to give that freedom to the people around you. 

But what if the way they live out their freedoms causes you pain, embarrassment, or hardship? What if the way they live out their freedoms, takes some of yours away?

This is the rub, isn’t it? When do we respond, and when do we let it go? When do we stand our ground, and when do we step aside? When do we exert control, influence and power, and when do we give it up?

These are tricky questions that I don’t have figured out all the way. What I can tell you though, is that answers are in the relationship. Instead of distancing ourselves from the people who hurt us, we must first draw closer in to the relationship. By confronting difficult conflicts, asking the right questions, and pursuing understanding, we send the message, “This  relationship is important to me and I want to strengthen in.”

Your teenager’s bad breath, bed hair and dirty sweats aren’t the problem. It’s the embarrassment you feel when other people see her. Your husband’s surprise spending isn’t the problem, it’s the betrayal you feel that you weren’t included. Your co-worker’s statement isn’t the problem. It’s the fear you feel that he may be right.

Embarrassment, shame, betrayal and fear all are feelings inside of you that you can deal with. Once you recognize the feelings inside of you, you have the choice how you will respond to those feelings.Trouble happens when you try to control the people in your life (external) instead of the feelings inside ourselves (internal.) People are not for controlling. People are for loving. 

Relationships are for keeping. Bonds are for strengthening.

We try to control others through lecturing, pouting, yelling, nagging, withdrawing, punishing, and labeling. We falsley believe that our world will fall apart when we give up control of other people. But the opposite is true. Once we give up trying to control others, we free them and ourselves to be who they truly are. We allow God to have His way inside of us, and inside of them.

This doesn’t mean you should stop setting limits, boundaries or expectations. It just means that you won’t get so bent out of shape when someone expresses his/her will, feelings, or needs. You accept them where they are at. You accept the world as it is, not as you want it to be.

This “acceptance” stuff is not easy. It requires God-sized strength. Recognizing that God wants to change our “internal situation” before he wants to change our “outside situation” is brutal. But God knows that the power comes when the inside is changed, not the outside. God knows that real happiness is possible in our internal world regardless of what is going on in our external world.

Controlling people is so… yesterday. Today is your day to focus on controlling the insides instead of the outsides. When you do, you’ll find that you communicate your needs, boundaries and expectations much better. You’ll find that your relationships get stronger instead of more distant.

For instance, to your scroungy teenager, you’ll say, “Oh geez, I’m feeling pretty embarrassed to be seen in public with you. I realize that’s my problem, and I will handle that. But I want to talk to you about this when we get home. I want to understand why the changes?”

With your spouse, you’ll say,”I’m so hurt that you spent that amount of money before talking to me. I want us to be partners, but when you do that, I feel unimportant.”

With your co-worker at the meeting you’ll say, “Boy, that’s not the way I see it. My experience of what happened is this…”

The hardships you face are meant to bring you into a surrendered relationship with God, yourself and others. Once you face the problem feelings inside of you, you will be able to decide with confidence how to respond to those conflicts with others.

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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