Look on most lists of things we fear most and you will find intimacy listed in some description. Yet we are born with the deep desire to love and be loved. Deep connection in an open and honest relationship is what our hearts most desire.
God put in our hearts the need for love. In our childhood and teen years, we experienced breaks in trust, humiliation, embarrassment, and shame. In order to protect our hearts for the hurt and pain, we developed a protective filter that keeps our inner most thoughts and feelings secret.
Marriane Williamson put it this way, “Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn.” Life is a journey of “unlearning of fear and prejudices and the acceptance of love back into our hearts. Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth.”
We think we are protecting our hearts from being hurt again, yet we still find ourselves in hurt and pain. The only way to have the deep connection and intimate love that we want is to remove the protective filter and share our inner most thoughts and feelings… to stand naked, intellectually and emotionally, in front of our spouse.
We have written previously about the importance of three-legged table upon which your marriage sits. Passion, Connection, and Commitment are each just as essential as the other. One of the critical ingredients to having the marriage you have always wanted is Passion.
How Connected Is Your Marriage?
My friend, Dr. David Olson of University of Minnesota, St. Paul, and PREPARE/ENRICH has spent his professional career helping couples and developed the Personal Assessment of Intimacy in Relationships upon which the following assessment is based.
Score each statement below on a scale from 1 to 5 with 1 being Strongly Disagree and 5 being Strongly Agree.
- My spouse listens to me when I need someone to talk to.
- I rarely “keep to myself”.
- My spouse has all the qualities I’ve ever wanted in a spouse.
- We enjoy some of the same activities.
- I can state my feelings without my spouse getting defensive.
- I feel a great deal of love for my spouse.
- My spouse and I have friends in common.
- We like playing together.
- I rarely feel distant from my spouse.
- My spouse and I understand each other.
- My souse can really understand my hurts and joys.
- I do not disapprove of any of my spouse’s friends nor do they of mine.
- I never feel neglected by my spouse.
- My spouse and I share in some of the same interests.
- I never feel lonely when my spouse and I are together.
- I never feel “put down” in a serious conversation with my spouse.
- I don’t think any other couples could possibly be closer than my spouse and me.
- I enjoy spending time with my spouse.
- We find time to do fun things together.
- My spouse and I have an endless number of things to talk about.
Add up all of your scores. If you scored below 75, you have growth opportunities in the area of intimacy and connection.
Intimacy is the deep connection between two spouses. It is standing in front of each other emotionally and intellectually naked. It happens as each spouse trusts the other enough to be totally vulnerable about our story while at the same time remaining openly nonjudgmental, empathic and compassionate to our spouse’s story.
Deep connection is the most basic desire of our hearts. Yet it is the thing that we fear most. The only way to become deeply connected is to do the most courageous things in the world: be open and vulnerable.
It is risky because we fear if we are truly “seen” we will be rejected or worse, our spouse will use it against us at some other point in life. But doing the things we fear most is the only way to create the deep connection that your heart most desires.
Deep Connection Makes Everything Better
You may have wondered why sometimes after something horrible, like the loss a relative, a big argument, a huge disappointment, you and your spouse enjoy one of the most passionate moments in your marriage. We believe it is because the emotional connectedness is so strong at that moment.
When you are deeply connected, you have a better sex life, trivial differences become forgivable little annoyances, you are open to talk about everything, and you are happier and more satisfied in all the areas of your life.
How To Grow Deep Connection
- Have Courageous Conversations – Instead of moving away from your spouse by withdrawing or stonewalling or moving against your spouse with defensiveness or criticism, move toward your spouse by following the Courageous Conversation Rules and discussing issues in your marriage.
- Empathize – Empathy is the act of feeling with your spouse. It is when you put yourself into your spouse’s shoes. When your spouse tells a story about what is going on in their heart, imagining what they must have really wanted instead of what happened to them will help you feel empathic toward them. It is being with them in their hurt or pain.
- Be Compassionate – It takes compassion to listen to your spouse’s stories that are hard for them to tell. It can be hard to stay open while listening to another’s story. Compassion is the ability to sit with your spouse without moving to blame, judgment or advice giving.
What do you have to say?
We love to hear from readers. How did you do on this assessment? Have you ever wondered about why it is we need connection so badly but yet are so afraid to connect? What recommendations would you add to strengthen deep connection? Do you know someone who you need to forward this article to?
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2016. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.