‘I really thought you understood that I don’t like that!’
‘You’re so focused on your own ways, will you ever understand mine?’
If your marriage or close relationships have sometimes included these statements of frustration, you need to know that you are not alone, but actually, you are on a good trajectory of becoming more intimate with each other.
So often we confuse intimacy with sexual intimacy only, but, while it can include this, it is so much more that just sexual closeness. We all need to be intimate at every stage of our lives, it is lifelong, and it fulfills the deepest part of our beings. In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote: ‘For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.’ (1 Cor 13:12) It’s as if we exist to be noticed, and to notice: to know, and to be known. This is intimacy – knowing someone, and being known by someone. While it seems simple, its lack can have some dire consequences – like addictive cycles; a need for pornography and a deep longing for connection that can so easily be perverted, just to name a few.
Said in another way: intimacy is when partners can map their own minds in front of each other, while letting their partner map their own mind as well (Schnarch 2009: 150). Mind-mapping involves being able to read our own mind, and someone else’s, and being willing to engage this ‘mapping’ meaningfully. It involves vulnerability, kindness and acceptance if it is to be constructive, but if one partner becomes critical and judgmental, it provides the fuse for major explosions!
So, how can you improve your intimacy with your partner? Maybe try this: ask your partner to share something about you, that he/she thinks you do not know. Then you can tell him/her something you think he/she doesn’t know about him/herself. Enjoy the ‘getting to know’ each other. Be careful to show kindness and respect and it should be a wonderful time.