Tessa and I recently worked with a couple who wanted to have more “intimacy.” We asked the question,” How would you know if you had more intimacy?”
The couple responded predictably. The husband said, “We would have more sex.” The wife replied, “We would be closer. We would do more things together and share our thoughts and opinions.”
The couple’s statements cover a broad range of the continuum of “intimacy.” It has to be both physical and emotional, present and future, predictable yet evolving.
We know that the terms “intimacy, safety, and vulnerability” go hand in hand. A formula perhaps: safety + vulnerability = intimacy. A couple cannot have intimacy without both safety and vulnerability. A person will not be vulnerable by exposing areas susceptible to attack or harm, without feeling emotionally and physically safe.
Tessa and I also know that safety in the present cannot be established or maintained if there is doubt about the future of the relationship. The tendency is to protect one’s self by not becoming vulnerable within a relationship that has a doubtful future.
As long as there is physical safety, how does a partner or spouse secure the relationship’s future to make intimacy possible today?
Predictability of behavior is a large factor in securing the relationship’s future. Predictability and credibility are related. Words match behavior consistently over time.
Something as small as being on time is important. Constantly being late for engagements erodes your credibility. It raises the issue, “How important am I to you?”
Allying with your partner by creating protective boundaries against all other relationship invasions, will secure the future. This message, your partner’s importance,
will provide safety and allow for an intimate relationship.
So in summary, securing your relationship’s future is necessary for safety in the present, allowing each member to be vulnerable and therefore intimate.
Remember, safety + vulnerability = intimacy.