The Heart Of Intimacy
We all have biologically based needs air, food, water, shelter and bonding. Bonding is the unique combination of emotional openness and physical closeness. It is the only biologically based need that we can’t meet by ourselves. We need another person so we look for him or her in order to experience bonding and that feeling of intimacy.
Intimacy is a journey and many couples find they are in a state of unconscious incompetence. They don’t know what they don’t know. They just recognize that the relationship isn’t providing the feelings they were looking for.
Intimate relationships have predictable stages. First, there is “illusion”. In illusion, we are in love and we hope that everything will be fine. We are looking for what is right, and finding it. And, then something happens, and we are disappointed. What we hoped would happen is not happening and we feel disillusion.
At this state, we begin to look for what is wrong, and we find that. As that happens, we use whatever we know to try to get what we want. This often leads to a power struggle. Each partner tries the best ways they know to get what they want which often leads to “dirty fighting” rather than “fair fighting”. This then becomes a period of confusion.
In the stage of confusion, we notice what is wrong and try to find ways to change it. Anger, pain and disappointment can leak out in a variety of ways such as blame, withholding, fighting, etc., all of which eventually lead to a “conclusion”.
Conclusion can become despair, the end of intimacy and trust and confiding and joy. However, if we open ourselves up to learning the skills to deal with conflict fairly and non-destructively and with goodwill, the relationship can thrive and intimacy can be restored.
Many couples who want to reshape the patterns of their relationship find that working with a qualified marriage and relationship counselor can help move them from “unconscious incompetence” (I don’t know what I don’t know) to “unconscious competence” (I know it and do it it is a habit).