Joe Beam, marriage expert and chairman of www.marriagehelper.com, shares how lack of initmacy it can lead to relational crisis.
The dictionary defines intimacy as “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.” In the social sciences, we think of it as closeness, openness, vulnerability, and transparency. It is letting another person look deep inside you. It has been said that intimacy can be understood more clearly by pronouncing it “into-me-see,” which means letting someone else see into your real, inner self~no walls and no pretense.
The difficulty is that most of us don’t have a person, much less a group of people, with whom we can be so open. We may have learned early in life that people tend to accept us only if we meet their criteria for acceptance. This leads us to wear masks and pretend to be who others expect us to be rather than being authentic and real.
Yet we crave being known as we truly are and loved nevertheless. No criteria. No pretending. Just love me as I am.
One of the most oft-used hymns used by great revivalists to draw people to repentance and a realtionship with Christ is “Just As I Am.” Knowing that our God and our Saviour call us “just as we are” is one of the most powerful concepts in Christianity and one of the most powerful motivators to grow and change into all that we can become.
I want to be accepted just as I am. That’s the core of love. I don’t feel loved when someone wants me to be different in some way to be accepted. I feel loved when I realize that another person can and does love me without requiring me to be any different than I actually am deep inside. Some call it unconditional love. Others call it true love. Most don’t care what it is called; they just want it.
It seems rare for a person to be in a relationship where he or she feels that the other accepts or loves without requiring any action, belief, mindset, or anything else…where love exists for the person when he is good, when she is bad, or when vacillating between the two.
When lonely hurting people find each other, it can be a wonderful thing if they develop a relationship based on mutual trust, openness, and understanding. It can be a tragic thing if they come to feel that they are “two against the world” and that no one else could ever understand or love them the way they do each other.
Allow me to illustrate. At LovePath International, we work a great deal with marriages in crisis. Quite a few of those involve infidelity. Sometimes the infidelity is primarily an affair of opportunity – being in the wrong place at the right time, and things get out of hand. As bad as that is – and it is very bad – those are usually the less troublesome to overcome. Those that are far more difficult involve two people, feeling lonely and craving love, who come into contact with each other, but one or both of them are married to someone else.
Can you imagine how difficult it is to convince someone to leave a relationship where he/she feels accepted and loved unconditionally and go back into a marital relationship where he/she feels the other person controls or coerces them to be as that spouse wants them to be?
It can only be done if there is a restructuring of the existing marriage to a relationship of unconditional love. That, of course, is very hard to accomplish when the unfaithful mate compares the love and acceptance he or she feels from the lover to the experiences of feeling unloved by their spouse. If the spouse being abandoned isn’t willing to see his or her part in what happened and isn’t open to changing the relationship to one much healthier than they had, it’s relatively impossible.
We have an amazing success record of saving three out of four troubled marriages, even when this situation exists, but only occasionally can we help when the abandoned spouse refuses to see what must be done, refuses to take any responsibility for what has occurred, or mostly just wants to hurt the unfaithful spouse.
That is not to say that adultery is justified, or that it is acceptable to stray when one feels more love from a paramour than from a spouse. It is to say that a marriage in crisis because a spouse feels loved by another usually involves a serious problem in the marriage. Whatever the symptoms, the underlying cause probably relates to at least one spouse, if not both, feeling a lack of love because they are afraid to let the other person see into them. Or they did let the other person see into them but were rejected, castigated, or coerced into being someone else.
Intimacy is the answer to a great many problems in relationships. However, it will never occur until a person feels safe enough to show who he or she is, and the other person in the relationship can accept them as they are.
Without intimacy, all relationships are temporary. They exist until a person finds acceptance and love from someone else.
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