In the counseling office I've seen conflict done every which way. I've heard yelling and screaming from both sides. I might as well have been watching a Gilligan's Island rerun. Sometimes I just let them go until they remember I'm in the room and sheepishly turn towards me. Other times a couple starts out being so artificially sweet that I just about overdose on splenda. Gag, gag, gag. I've come to learn that much of the time these folks aren't willfully trying to miss the hearts of one anohter. They just have never seen what real intimacy can look like, whether there is conflict going on or not.
Sometimes, most or all of the motivation can be in the right place, but that doesn’t guarantee one knows HOW to BE in a close relationship.
If your family didn’t model intimacy, if they modeled drunkenness, abuse, distance or other forms of not dealing with life head on then you may not know how to actually connect deeply. In a subsequent post I'm going to talk more about the impact of growing up in a dysfunctional home where drunkenness and/or abuse is prevalent.
I want to share two important words for building intimacy in your relationship with your spouse: Curiosity and Intentionality. Intimacy doesn't just happen. First, be curious about the soul of your spouse. I love the scene at end of the first Men in Black movie. They were in search of a galaxy on Orion's belt. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones just couldn't figure it out. Eventually they learned that Orion was a cat. The galaxy was attached to his collar. The camera moved in and showed the large marble sized galaxy actually had immense proportions the size of what we actually consider a galaxy. I believe the soul of your husband or wife is filled with galaxies and galaxies and galaxies. Be curious. Explore the magnitude of wonder in him or her.
And be intentional. If you don't have it on your brain to connect with your husband or wife it won't happen. Sometimes, even when you do want it to happen it doesn't. And that may be because you truly don't know how. All of us overestimate our ability for intimacy. So free yourself and admit it when you don't know how. And if your spouse tells you this, accept it as a great gift.