By Dan Tocchini
“It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy;—it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.” ― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Will you let me hear your thoughts, your fears, your hopes and dreams as well as your worries? What is your favorite memory? Your worst memory? Your scariest memory? Who was your first love? Your first kiss?
Who first broke your heart? Please give me the details on you, so I can piece the mosaic together and work out where to place myself in the tapestry of your life.
Intimacy is the secret to lasting love and to a life worth living together. It is the essence of human existence, the lack of which, studies show; has contributed to divorce, addiction, mental disease, learning disorders and crime.
Physical intimacy is often mistaken for emotional intimacy; 'because we have sex, we are intimate.' Although they are both ways of being intimate, they are still two very different ways of relating. Physical intimacy can be a result of practicing emotional intimacy.
Can it be made easy? Yes, in fact, for me it has to be to be accessible. If it wasn't easy, there is no way I could have experienced the 42 years of intimacy I have enjoyed and continue to exercise with my wife, Aileen.
However, it wasn't always easy, what I learned over time was that I was the one making it difficult. So difficult, in fact, we almost got divorced very early on in our marriage.
The following four tips are what set the stage for me to establish an intimacy that is effortless, and when practiced diligently and wholeheartedly can reap benefits beyond expectations.
Remember, that these tips are an invitation for you to consider how easy intimacy can be, not another way your partner should be with you.
1. Set Your Expectations to What Is.
Expect to find your partner's best qualities buried under your assumptions. I have spent 30 plus years as a trainer, coach, and consultant and I realized early on that the self-help gurus are wrong! I do not believe we can create an intimate relationship where we participate one hundred percent one hundred percent of the time.
If we are truly going to be intimate with anybody, we must get honest about what it means to be fully human. And, there is no way to be fully human without, at times, getting stuck or being completely absent. One of the ways we make intimacy hard is spending energy and time trying to change the gravity of human nature. All that will happen by resisting our humanity is that we get extremely tired because of the tantrums that come along with going to war with what is.
2. Show up!
Meaning, be here now with what is. If you are saying something like, I would, but I just don't know how. Maybe you are asking the wrong question or just asking the right question in the wrong way?
Showing up is being in the moment with whatever is happening. I will never forget Aileen and I talking about how disconnected we had been in the days leading up to the conversation. I asked her to tell me what she was thinking, and she told me how she was experiencing my absence even at that moment.
As we listened to each other's account I began to realize I was experiencing intimacy through the process and as I spoke up to tell her of the paradox, she said, "Wow, I feeling intimate by hearing what you are saying about your lack of intimacy with me!" We ended up laughing, sharing wine and having an intimate evening.
Remember, it isn't that you aren't showing up, it's that you haven't noticed how you are showing up.
3. Stop Shoulding On Everyone
We automatically decide how something or someone should look or behave, then hold reality to it and find ourselves confused, disappointed, angry and resentful because, what is, disagrees with us about what should be. Eventually, if we don't let go of our superstition, we go to war with what is, and the suffering begins.
We should all over ourselves and our partner. One complaint after another, "you should," "I shouldn't," "you shouldn't," "I should" and we shouldn't," should we?
The next time you find yourself angry, irritated or rolling your eyes at your partner, ask yourself, how should___(Partner's Name)___________, be for me to feel better about this situation?
And wait for the answer....should happens!
We get so much should on us we can't see each other.
The second I am willing to let things be what they are I make friends with reality, and it is amazing what becomes available. Instead of using my imagination to invent fantasies of how Aileen should be, I can use it to explore and become intimately acquainted with who she is at that moment.
You will be amazed at how easily intimacy will emerge if you will stop shoulding long enough to be with what is and get curious about who IS there.
When you stop shoulding, you suspend any offense and open a possibility to connect intimately. Intimacy generates trust from which difficult conversations can be processed deepening intimacy in the process.
4. Get Curious About Who Is There With You.
It is neurologically impossible to be angry and curious at the same time. After you have stopped shoulding, ask yourself, "If ____(Partner's Name)_________ wasn't who I thought ___(he/she)_________ was, would I want to know?" If the answer is yes, continue to be curious about who’s been hidden by the should on them...
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Authored by Dan Tocchini