With social media so accessible it’s easy to follow authors, speakers, pastors and others who have inspiring thoughts. A couple times a week I’ll read through them, but a few months ago I read something that stopped me in my tracks. Gary Thomas, the author of “Sacred Marriage,” wrote, “Married couples: the small patterns of relating you set today become the concrete realities tomorrow. We can get used to living without intimacy.” Ugh. That last part is what got me: We CAN get used to living without intimacy. This invaded my thoughts, my emotions and it made me reflect in a couple of ways.
I thought about one of the most common presenting problems I hear from couples: feeling emotionally disconnected. The problem with disconnection is that it does not just happen after a big event or a more vulnerable time in the marriage but it can often occur at anytime (slowly and often unnoticed). The impact of living without intimacy can cause us to feel lonely, rejected, unsettled, unsecure and unknown. So, what is the antidote?
Well, that’s a loaded question, but a main way to fight against loss of intimacy is being intentional. A few ways we can be intentional is
1.) Stay curious. When we start to make assumptions about what our spouse is thinking or feeling, we allow the slow leak to start. We keep the slow leak going by then acting on those assumptions instead of asking for more information or clarification. We put more weight on what we believe is reality instead of what our spouse is really experiencing.
2.) Be affectionate. You might not always feel like it, but that is the perfect time to dig deep and show your love and care. When we allow a pattern to play out of not being curious and not being affectionate, we can pull away and find ourselves disconnected. The harm is that, like the frog in the boiling pot of water, we keep adjusting to the lack of intimacy so slowly that we don’t even realize it’s occurring.
Being intentional will create and maintain intimacy.