Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Sexuality and Spirituality

Do you really want a healthy relationship?

One question we continually ask readers in this blog in this age of deceptive romance is: Do you really want a healthy relationship? Relationships should be a place of rest and acceptance, not a place of fear. They should be a place for us to reveal our true selves to another and enjoy true intimacy. But so many of us have been wounded, both in our upbringing from imperfect parents and in our prior relationships. How do we get there?

One aspect of our journey from deception to health is to get in touch with our spirituality. We define spirituality as our relationship with Creation, our Higher Power if we have one and to the creative process. It is in our spirituality that we find meaning to life and our purpose in the tribe we call the human race. Through our spirituality we have contentment in who we are apart from our actions.

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We find so much anger and despair in our youth as they struggle to find purpose and value to life. Because of damage in our childhood from parents who weren't there for us due to their own character flaws and addictions, many of us can't accept just being and must fill our life with doing. Some of us even lose ourselves in religious activities, thinking it will solve the problem. But eventually the busyness isn't enough and the emptiness leads to acting out and lashing out.

For the sociopath there will never be enough antisocial behavior to fill the aching chasm in their soul. But for many of us living more conventional lives, dysfunction and insanity gradually establish footholds. By tapping into our spiritual side, we can find serenity and relate to the world with love instead of resentment. Unlike the sociopath, we then will have something to give instead of always taking.

We can't have a healthy spirituality and healthy relationships without a healthy sexuality. Sexuality is about our relationship to ourselves and how we relate to one another as men and women both physically and emotionally. In our relationship to ourselves, it goes beyond our genitals to every aspect of our body from head to toe and how others relate to us as a physical being. It sets us apart, yet binds us to others. It allows us to co-create human beings to perpetuate the species.

Parveen Chopra surveyed the Christian, Buddhist and Hindu religions  and wisely observed, "The fundamental view pervading the contemporary spiritual scene seems to be that sex, long seen as the enemy of the spirit, is actually its ally, or can be made to act like one. This sex-positive spiritual view holds that to truly become whole, we must liberate our sexuality from the chains of guilt, shame and repression, and allow it to find full expression as a natural, healthy and even sacred part of life."

We agree with Parveen that regardless of  religious background, we should strive to reconcile the spiritual and sexual to enjoy healthy relationships. If we can't find meaning and purpose in the tribe called the human race, we set ourselves up for a life of not feeling and acting out and not being there for those closest to us. If our relationship to ourselves is damaged or repressed, we will have little, if anything, to give another person. True intimacy was defined by psychologist Harriet Lerner of the Menniger Clinic as "a relationship where one can be one's self  and provide space for someone else to do the same, where we deepen and refine the truths we we tell each other, where we hear each other and talk to each other about sensitive information." Embracing your spirituality and sexuality is the first big step to enjoying true intimacy with others.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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