The struggle for intimacy is one that all of us face in our relationships each day. Some try to solve it by talking with another person. For others, the intimacy struggle is an inward journey that comes about after many hours of meditation. But with regard to another person -- a spouse or lover -- when the intimacy bond is broken, the relationship begins to unravel. We see the consequences when communication falters, respectfulness wanes, and sexual intimacy suffers. Is it enough to trust one's intuition the moment that uneasiness creates a funny feeling inside?

Vulnerability makes the unraveling relationship painful

In talking with Dr. Patty Ann Tublin, she pointed out, “When we become intimate, after a while we become complacent and we take the other person for granted.  The danger is this – when we become intimate we become vulnerable.  Once someone has access to our emotional vulnerabilities it makes it all the more painful when betrayed.  It feels as if we were stabbed in the heart.”  www.relationshiptoolbox.com/blog

As a result we see the sad irony.  We strive for intimacy with our love, but once achieved, when the intimacy bond becomes compromised three challenges arise.

Communication falters – Sometimes two people simply fall into a pattern of separateness.  Growing apart is becoming so common that a survey of British lawyers revealed that this is now the number one reason for divorce in Great Britain. Here is the Catch 22 – women like to talk about issues, whereas men will often do anything to avoid the truth talk; that is, the talk in which women want answers.

Perhaps it is up to women to create neutral spaces within the home to be able to clear the air about issues and then enjoy a night of loving.  There was once a time when two people could unwind at the end of the day. It was known as the cocktail hour. In a relaxed way it was easier to say "I need your help with something that is bothering me."

But we are now a 24/7 society. To create intimate communication time might require either specific planning or openness to spontaneity.

Respectfulness wanes – When a couple's social life splinters into his night out and hers, it creates a chasm. How often have you been out with women friends and watched the evening turn into a male bashing session?  And on the other side of the aisle, men might make a few remarks, but then move on.

What is happening today is similar to what took place during the Feminist Movement’s consciousness raising sessions. Initially a place to vent, they became a blueprint for some women on how to end a marriage.

Many women just need to vent with non-judgmental good listeners rather than advice-givers.

For some women, no matter how angry they may be with their partner, they expect that good friends will not turn a conversation into a "trash that man" session – but rather provide sympathy and understanding. Alisa Bowman’s Project Happily Ever After shows us the value of a good friend who suggests you give a failing marriage, one more try.

As Leslie Wright pointed out in a recent Forbes article: “Misandry can be seen today in the way men are portrayed in commercials, TV shows and the movies. . . . You might think this is just harmless fun. Is it? The harmless fun of our ‘entertainment’ has made male-bashing an acceptable past-time while female-bashing will earn any man an immediate rebuke.” Enough With The Male-Bashing - Forbes.com

Sexual closeness suffers – This happens quite simply because two people begin to think, “There’s always tomorrow night.”  That may be true, but by the next night, the spark may be missing.   As I noted in an earlier piece, young men like sex anywhere, anytime, planned or spontaneous, but often. One complained, "Sometimes my girlfriend is in the kitchen and she looks so sexy in a cute domestic way. So I go over to her and try to be romantic and she says, 'Not now, I'm cooking.' That's almost as bad as 'Not tonight, dear.' " What Men Want from Us: 5 Wishes,

This is also a hazard seen in professional marriages as noted in Not Tonight Dear: I've Got a Business To Run/ Dr. Patty Ann Tublin. 

In many ways to keep a relationship thriving requires even more time and effort than running a business because it is intimacy focused. But the hazard of the 24/7 society is stress.  As Dr. Richard Nicastro points out:  

“While stress impacts people in different ways, couples usually report that intimacy and passion are profoundly compromised when stress reaches a certain level. And this makes sense for several reasons: When under stress, your body readies itself for danger.” "Passion, Sex, and Intimacy", Dr. Richard Nicastro’s E-Workbook, is at Relationship Advice | Marriage Help.

What is the solution?

For intimacy to flourish it may take a bit of turning inward. Perhaps both men and women should develop their intuitive skills and interpret the silences, downcast eyes, uncomfortable moments and body language -- and handle the issue immediately. By re-evaluating intimacy’s need for communication, respect, and sexual closeness, couples can maintain or reignite a breathless passion that translates into relationship ecstasy.   

Copyright 2012 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved

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