Resolving marriage conflicts: Intimacy
Communication and Negotiation are key to working your way through your Intimacy issues and staying on a path towards a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship.
Intimacy: Defined by Webster as close acquaintance: closeness. It really is so much more though, isn’t it? Intimacy issues in marriage defined both as closeness and sexual intimacy can make or break a relationship like no other marital conflict.
Intimacy problems are one of the most common issues discussed among married couples. According to Psychology Today, 25% of all Americans have limited or no sexual desire. Generally speaking, it is an issue most women have discussed over coffee with girlfriends, and is many times the punch line of familiar jokes about dissatisfied husbands and their non-responsive wives. It is, however, no joking matter.
Men and Women think differently. Understanding each other’s needs and feelings regarding this issue is very important. For Women, Intimacy is part of a larger picture. Time spent together, respectful exchanges of conversation, gentle touches and warmth in the relationship as a whole create the intimacy needed for sexual intimacy to occur. Many Men feel that the sex act alone IS the intimacy and that making love creates the warmth, and respect needed in successful and happy marriages. Communication and Negotiation are the keys to working your way through your Intimacy issues and staying on a path towards a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship.
First and foremost intimacy is fostered by respectful, honest and genuine communication between partners. Whether the discussion is about how to freeze hamburger, or how to pay off the Mortgage, treat your lover like your best friend. Non productive arguing, using curse words towards each other, demeaning each other, nagging, and blaming kill romance and closeness between partners. Memories are long, so even if you have apologized for the poor and immature behavior, the words you say continue to resonate within the other person. In heated situations, it is best to think before you speak. Stick to the issues at hand, and do not dissolve the issue in a mire of negative personal attacks.
Spending time together in a positive way, talking about your relationship, planning for good times in the future all help foster a feeling of closeness that will build intimacy.
Negotiation: Once communication has begun and a sense of trust and honesty has grown, a frank discussion about intimacy issues can begin. What was the cause of the breakdown? Many times couples with children find the sexual intimacy in their relationship takes a back seat to the “business” of running a family. Talk about this with your partner and set goals to make time for each other. A half an hour of cuddling before bedtime without the assumption of sex can help rebuild romantic feelings and ultimately increase intimacy. Is your partner feeling stress or is overwhelmed by work or family? Find ways to contribute to the overall well being of your partner. Put your relationship as your number one priority and begin to tackle the issues that separate you.
If desire for sexual intimacy is strong in your partner, and less important to you, negotiate. What can he/she do to help you feel more intimate? How often does your partner want to have sex? Can you find a compromise so that you both can enjoy the encounters and the bonding that goes along with it?
Sexual intimacy should flow naturally from a healthy, supportive and mutually giving relationship. It is part of that bigger picture. If intimacy issues continue, a look at the relationship as a whole, your goals as a couple and an honest look at the underlying problems and trust concerns is necessary. There is no quick fix for intimacy breakdowns, but if you are willing to do the work and be open to communication and negotiation, your relationship may blossom and grow to new levels.