There are many pieces that work together to create a positive, fulfilling, and healthy marriage. If those pieces made up a puzzle, emotional intimacy would be the centerpieces. They are the pieces that are the most difficult to put together, but are oftentimes the most colorful and beautiful part of the puzzle. Without them the puzzle would be dull and incomplete. With them you have a beautiful piece of art. You can have a relationship with little to no emotional intimacy, but it will be hardly bearable at its best and completely intolerable at its worst.
So what exactly is emotional intimacy?
These two words get thrown around so much, sometimes the meaning can get lost in translation. Emotional intimacy can be described as the feelings of love, trust, acceptance and respect created by the willingness of each person to share personal and vulnerable thoughts and feelings. The more open and transparent each person is, while maintaining a non-judgmental and accepting posture with one another, the more emotional intimacy is created. Emotional intimacy doesn’t just happen between two people in a romantic relationship, but can also happen in other types of relationships. Although this blog focuses on emotional intimacy within a marriage, it is crucial to every relationship, not just between romantic partners. Emotional intimacy is powerful and a critical part of any trans-formative relationship.
The Power of Emotional Intimacy
The power of emotional intimacy is that it transforms relationships and creates stability, empowerment, freedom, and deep fulfillment.
When emotional intimacy is created within a relationship it provides stability and grounding for each person. To be able to share our deepest insecurities and painful past with someone, who doesn’t run away or shut us down, provides an unbelievable amount of security. The simple truth is that most people aren’t willing or able to provide that. We usually have our defenses up because we have all encountered painful rejection in the past and we try our best to avoid that by keeping things surface level. Sometimes we don’t share because we don’t want to drive the other person away.
If you are able to share those deep, and sometimes painful, parts of yourself without being rejected or abandoned, then it draws you closer to your spouse. Over time you and your spouse begin to realize that you aren’t going anywhere and you’re both willing to stick together no matter what. This closeness gives you a sense of peace and security that is incredibly satisfying and undoubtedly hard to find.
Freedom and Empowerment
Our deepest pains and insecurities are infamous for holding us hostage. Maybe one of yours is that you think and feel that you are boring and uninteresting. Feeling that way can keep you from reaching out to people and connecting with others because you think you don’t have anything interesting to offer. When you add emotional intimacy to that insecurity (a spouse who takes the time to listen to you and your ‘boring’ thoughts and feelings while being non-judgmental and accepting) then you might start to question how boring and uninteresting you actually are. I mean if someone wants to sit with you and listen to what you have to say, then that contradicts the belief that you are boring and uninteresting. In fact, it might mean that you are kind of a catch.
That process is freeing and empowering. Emotional intimacy gives you the courage to share more and express yourself in ways that you never have before. Once it is created, its effects reach far outside of your marriage and influence your experience at work, within the family, and even while engaging in your hobbies. Emotional intimacy can help you realize that you matter.
Emotional intimacy leads to deep fulfillment. The fulfillment is, among other things, a love and acceptance that transform us. It is satisfying and comforting to know that someone accepts you for all of you, not just the good parts. It’s also something that can continue to grow within the marriage. The more that you commit to being vulnerable and open with one another, while being willing to listen and accept one another, the greater your love for one another grows. This can be the bedrock of your marriage and one of the most satisfying and rewarding feelings you will ever experience.
It is so easy to be swept away by our every-day routines. Work has a way of carrying into your off time, the list of errands you need to run is endless, and maintaining a social life on top of everything else is difficult, to say the least. All of these things are important, but spending quality time with your spouse is crucial. Whether you choose to go out on a date or have some time for yourselves at home, use the time to share with one another. Don’t use the time to just share facts about your week, but also your feelings about things. Be there for one another by being accepting, generous in your assumptions, and willing to listen. As you perfect the process, you add centerpieces to your puzzle. What once was a puzzle with missing centerpieces will become a beautiful piece of art.