Monday, February 3, 2014

Feeling Unintimate

Intimacy can be expressed in a number of different ways.  The definition of intimate is:
  1. Closely acquainted; familiar, close.
  2. Private and personal.
  3. (of knowledge) detailed: thorough. 
This is really everything we want our marriage to be.  We walk into marriage expecting to be intimate with our spouse on every level.  We want to know them and be known by them, thoroughly! 

Sometimes that connection can be thrown off track immediately.  You just don't quite connect properly, you get a rocky start and can't quite find your grove when it comes to establishing a strong relationship.  This was certainly the case for my husband and me.

Other times you can connect perfectly at first.  Things can start out running smoothly but over the years you start doing different things, finding separate interests and putting less effort into your relationship.  Then one day you realize you don't "know" this other person anymore. 

You loose your intimacy.

I like the third definition of intimate, that it's of knowledge.  It reminds me immediately of how the KJV of the Bible uses the word knew for when a couple has intercourse.  It's the ultimate intimacy, a complete knowing.  

You might find this a strange assessment but I think that regularity of a couple's intimacy is sort of a gage for the state of the relationship.  Sort of like a gas gage is in a car.  If you're running on empty (meaning not being intimate at all) the relationship is going to be spitting and sputtering along.  Pretty soon it's going to die on the side of the road and could possibly do some deep and lasting damage to the vehicle.  However, if you have a full tank of gas (read, getting it on a lot) you're relationship will run much more smoothly and you're going to make it a lot farther.

You might be thinking, "WAIT JUST A SECOND HERE!  Are you saying that the more sex a couple has the more healthy the marriage?"  I can see how you would get that idea but that's not exactly it.  When you think about the way a gas gauge works this might become clearer.  It really doesn't matter to the car if you have the tank filled up to the very top or if you have a half a tank.  It's really just an indicator of how long it will be until you completely run out.  If you fill it up every day or only when it drops down to a quarter tank... now that's up to you.  If you keep putting it off and continue driving past gas stations though, you just might run out completely and a car really doesn't do much with no gas to make it go. 

My husband and I had a car for a while with a broken gas gauge.  One day as I was driving I got a little ding from the low fuel indicator but the little needle was still pointing at a half a tank.  We then realized that the light was working but the needle was broken.  Since it would be an expensive thing to fix and the car really wasn't worth a whole lot we decided we would have to go without this indicator.  We then would need to reset the trip millage counter each time we filled up the tank.  Then once we got over a certain number of kilometers (yep, we're from the great white North) we would have to fill up again.  Our low fuel light became a back up warning.  I think a lot of relationships work a little bit more like this car with the broken gauge.  If you don't keep close track of how much is in the tank you don't realize you're approaching the danger zone until all sorts of little bells and lights go off and you're almost running on empty. 

If you're like me you don't know a whole lot about mechanics.  I can fill it up with gas, check the tire pressure and call CAA (that's roadside assistance for any of you non Canadians).  I don't really know what's going on under the hood.  For that reason, my husband patiently explained to me some issue about driving with low fuel.  It went something like this, "Blah, blah, blah, gas gauge doesn't work.  Blah, blah, blah, driving with less than a quarter tank is hard on the vehicle.  Blah, blah, blah, try and fill it up more often.  Really, when he talks about mechanical things it sounds like all the adults in Charley Brown.  I did get the gist of it though.  If I want the vehicle not to break down, if I don't want to go to all the extra inconvenience and expense of taking it to get fixed, I'll fill it up more often so it will work at it's best. 

Well, I don't know of a better analogy for a marriage!  If you don't want your marriage to break down, if you don't want to go through all the inconvenience and expense of fixing what you could have prevented breaking in the first place, you need to fill up your marriage more regularly so it works at it's best. 

I know a lot of women (I admit, before my lecture I was one of these myself) that drive around in their cars and only fill up that tank at the very last minute.  I mean, coast into that gas station on fumes, last minute.  Sometimes we tend to treat husbands in the same way.  You know it's been a while since you were intimate last time but the dishes still need to be done, there is a few loads of laundry that should get washed, the kids made a huge mess and there is a meeting coming up that you said you would bring a snack for.  He can wait another night, right?  And you coast past another gas station. 

Sure, there is lots of things that could use your attention.  There are a lot of people pulling you in different directions.  We women are multitaskers so your mind is going a mile a minute but what is the vehicle that gets you to your destination?  Isn't the support you rely on to get you through the tough times your husband?  If it isn't, then it should be and we will try to correct things to get you there.  Your marriage is your vehicle, the gas that makes it go is your relationship.  The more time you spend "running on empty" the harder on the relationship it will be.  I'm not saying you have to keep the tank full to overflowing all the time but putting a few liters (once again, Canadian) in on a regular basis will go a long way towards making your relationship...go a long way.

So how do we "fill up the tank" of our relationship?  One simple, yet VERY effective way is sex.  Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and intimate with your husband does a lot to connect the two of you together (literally) and to creating trust and happiness in your relationship.  Being intimate might be the last thing you feel like doing (I'm going to be talking a lot more about this subject) but if you do take the time to make sure you are being intimate regularly and constantly it WILL improve the quality of your relationship and make your marriage run more smoothly.  The more intimate you are with your spouse, the more you will learn to trust one another.  The deeper the trust between you, the greater the support in times of trouble.  If you want your husband to be there for you, if you want your relationship to carry you through life, then you need to make sure you're investing in the relationship yourself.  You need to remind him often that you are with him.  The easiest and most effective way is to allow yourself to be intimate with him.   

There can be a LOT of different factors that go into why a couple stops being intimate.  I understand this, I've been there.  I will be talking about a lot of these factors from a few different perspectives and if you have any specific concerns you would like to discuss you can email me.  What we must realize however, is intimacy IS and integral part of a marital relationship.  If you want to have a healthy marriage, this is an aspect that WILL be part of it.  So whatever the hang ups and setbacks, if you know you are not being intimate very often (or at all) it's time to take steps towards resolving the issues that prevent it.  If you don't, you will find your marriage dead on the side of a road someplace and at that point your husband might not be willing to come give you a tow. 

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