The fact that shit comes up is not in itself a problem.
How you choose to deal with it is where things get interesting.
An amazing thing about well-matched couples is that not only do they play off each other’s strengths, the wounds and baggage they each carry is also well-matched. Meaning, they trigger the crap out of each other!
Reframing intimacy as a container designed for transformation and healing of all involved is a radical departure from the heterosexual monogamous model of happily-ever-after that we get spoon-fed from birth. I would go as far as to say that holding this paradigm is one way to view a healthy relationship through a queer lens.
One important note: While anyone in a relationship can use the relationship as a catalyst for personal growth and transformation, for the long-term sustainability factor of said relationship, usually both parties in a couple (or as many as are in a configuration) need to be invested. Otherwise, one person is growing and changing and learning and becoming, while the other is practicing what they have always practiced. Over time, this becomes untenable for parties involved, and something’s got to give.
The intimacy you share with your partner is integral to staying connected and protecting the bond that you’ve created with one another. Intimacy skills are not always second nature and can require learning them to ensure you continue to grow and nurture a healthy relationship. Building intimacy skills requires overcoming your fears and learning how to become more vulnerable with your significant other. It requires establishing trust to ensure you can let your guard down and become more honest with the person you share your life with.
It may start with asking, “What is intimacy in a relationship?” Becoming more intimate requires learning how to care for another person and put their needs equal with your own. It requires having more value for yourself and your partner. Intimacy takes time and should be something you prioritize to ensure it’s maintained and cultivated.
Questions to ask yourself
Emotional Integrity Skill Set Check-in:
Do I regularly acknowledge all of my needs and desires? (Remember, even if they will not be met at that moment, they still exist.)
Do I regularly acknowledge my unmet needs and express them as needed?
Do I regularly acknowledge the needs of all involved, and hold them equally valid to mine?
Do I share my true inner feelings and thoughts, a.k.a. “Transparency”?
Do I check in when unsure of someone’s feelings, needs, motivations, actions?
Are there any ways I’d like to improve in any of these areas? Is this improvement something I can do myself, or can I call on other resources for support?
Try actively incorporating these communication skills into your daily life for one week:
- Communicate forthrightly, and not wait to be asked.
- Communicate more rather than less about my choices and feelings.
- Practice being HALT aware:
- Communicate with others about charged topics when I am not Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.
At the end of the week, take a moment to reflect. What did you notice? Which strategies felt easiest, and which felt more challenging? What surprised you?
6 Not-So-Sexy Things That Lead to Better Sex
By Anabelle Bernard Fournier