Lessons In Intimacy
Photo: Larry Fagala
1: Love Thyself
“You have to love yourself, because no amount of love from others is sufficient to fill the yearning that your soul requires from you.” -Dodinsky
Self-love is the foundation upon which everything else is built. If you can’t spend a day alone in complete harmony with yourself, you will reach out to your partner, requiring him or her to show up in a specific way for you to be happy. Fill yourself up with self-love, and this need—and the problems that can arise from it—become irrelevant.
2: Accept the past.
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” -Anonymous
We inhabit our human bodies to experience what love isn’t, so that we can recognize what love really is. When we accept our past and are completely grateful for the lessons it has taught us, we can move forward in our marriage without being resentful of that past.
3: Have a vision for the future.
“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” -Victor Hugo
The world’s greatest structures are planned out to the smallest detail, yet when it comes to the most important structure of married life—our shared future as partners—we tend to put no vision into what it should like. Be clear from the outset of your grand vision for your partnership, and what you want to co-create with your partner.
4: Experience, but don't judge your emotions.
“If you bring forth that which is within you, then that which is within you will be your salvation. If you do not bring forth that which is within you, then that which is within you will destroy you.” -The Gnostic Gospels
Emotions give depth and richness to how we experience our world, including how we experience marriage. The thoughts we have about our experience gives that experience a framework, but our emotions give it character, vivacity—a beautiful glow. The purpose of emotions is to be fully with them, to give our soul the opportunity to record them, with full value, without judgment of those emotions as we go through this recording process.
5: Understand the masculine.
“Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
The majority of men have been culturally conditioned to live in their heads and to not feel their hearts, or even their bodies. If you felt your heart, would you even dare to assault, abuse or dictate? But the disconnect that men feel between the brain, heart and genitals has been imposed on them. It is a program. It takes a journey of self-discovery to start dropping this program. If your marriage partner is a man, give that man permission to feel his heart on a daily basis. Men, give yourselves permission, too.
6: Love unconditionally, and with integrity.
“I have looked at you in infinite ways and I have loved you in each.” -Stephen James Burford
Taking the conditions off of love is essential to a lasting marriage. Unfortunately, doing so can be difficult, since, for most of us, love has always been defined by conditions. Essentially, unconditional love acknowledges a soul has its own choices, and it is not offended by another being’s decision to choose them or not choose them in that moment. If, in a given moment, your partner’s soul wants or needs something different than what you want, that is their choice. It is not good or bad, it just is. By recognizing this as truth, we can fall into unconditional love with ease.
7: Listen, hear, then speak.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw
When you speak about sensitive subjects, give your partner the opportunity to speak. Listen consciously. Pause before replying, and say, “Thank you, I hear you.” And then continue with your answer. This is the opposite of going completely unconscious—not listening or hearing the person we are “communicating” with, but instead just waiting for the person to stop speaking so that we can speak.
8. Make intimacy a priority.
“It’s time we saw sex as the truly sacred art that it is. A deep meditation, a holy communion and a dance with the force of creation.” -Marcus Allen
It is vitally important to make time for sex in a relationship. When both partners value and prioritize time for sexual intimacy, it becomes a co-creative experience. Trust and presence are the most important factors for a great sex life. Are you both fully present when you are with each other? Get into your body by sitting and breathing deeply while gazing into each other’s eyes, then start whatever intimate interaction you both feel is right for that moment.
Ultimately, the goal of marriage is to create a partnership, not a relationship. After all, relationships tend not to work very well, since a relationship is something that exists outside of you both—like a ship you are working on to keep it sailing. How about you stop pretending the ship exists and start focusing, instead, on the two of you together, and what you can co-create? A partner is always there to support you, to help you be the best you can be, and to create beautiful things together with you. And while the difference between relationship and partnership may seem subtle, it makes a world of difference to your connection with your partner, and, ultimately, to the endurance and happiness of your marriage.
Stephen James Burford’s new book, “Collapsing the 9 Love Struggles: A Practical Guide To Transform Relationships And Elevate Love,” is available at amazon.com.