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The Secret Recipe of Intimacy

Photo Credit: Soroush Karimi
In our last post we hinted at the complexity of intimacy, especially in the context of forgiveness and healing (1/13/19).  Intimacy involves more than sex.  In fact sex can sometimes be anything but intimate. Many authors and psychologists speak of at least 4 components to deep and sustained intimacy.  They often include emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical intimacy.  We like to think of this as the 'Secret Recipe.' To achieve this Intimacy we both need to desire and be willing to work towards intimacy.

Intellectual Intimacy is sharing ideas and thoughts, showing an interest in each other's hobbies.  We won't always enjoy doing the same thing, but we support each other's pursuits and successes.  Tom has always mowed the lawn, but over the years he has joined me in gardening, saving seeds, nurturing seedlings and reading about heirloom tomatoes.  As a result, some of our most memorable conversations and moments have occurred working together in our garden.

Emotional Intimacy is being vulnerable in talking about our feelings with our spouse.  Knowing we are safe in sharing anything with each other is crucial.  When we are in a tiff, Mary Frances and I both have strong feelings.  When we are tender, gentle and patient in sharing our feelings and talking things through, we create a safe place where we do not have to stuff our feelings or walk on eggshells.  Sharing like this makes problem solving easier and keeps feelings from erupting in behaviors that hinder intimacy.

Spiritual Intimacy is not just about God or going to church together.  It is sharing and nurturing each other's beliefs.   It is also recognizing and affirming the God-given goodness we see in each other.  It is embracing, honoring and delighting in our differences.  Embracing the total person God created me to be and being totally accepted and loved is so freeing!  There is no person on earth who loves me as completely as Tom.  That is what first attracted me to him and still does to this day.  I cannot tell him enough how much he means to me and he delights in hearing it.

Physical Intimacy includes our lovemaking and so much more.  It is that secret wink or look that I give Mary Frances from across the room.  It is holding hands, snuggling and being playful.  This intimacy is often spontaneous when we are in a good space with each other.  When we open ourselves to this intimacy, we can return to that good space.

Intimacy mellows and matures over time, like a fine wine.  Because of its many components we like to think of it as a rich sauce that has simmered for hours, even days, filling the hearth, enticing the senses, and maturing with age.  Intimacy in marriage is unique to every couple.  It involves setting healthy boundaries.  As a couple we have our own 'Secret Recipe' that works for us and is trusted, honored and respected.

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