When I was a younger woman I interchanged love and intimacy with physical connection more often than I care to enumerate, but I have since matured my viewpoints. Sex and intimacy are two separate things. I am a woman that loves physical closeness and the electricity created when two people rub up against and bump into each other. But I am learning to also appreciate different types of closeness with a person. Close like laugh sharing, story telling, game playing, dating, dancing, walking and running errands, sleeping with and waking up to, cooking for and eating with each other, getting dressed and coming out into the world together, being quiet and having conversations. It's the memory sharing and magic making, taking pictures, holding hands and leaning on each other. It's soft kisses on the forehead and covering each other with the blanket on chilly evenings. It's the lovemaking that exists in the daily interactions.
There is a closeness in living and building a life with someone that bonds you and exposes you and your partner. This kind of intimacy is intense and intentional and it's a deeper form of connection. What I have also noticed in my few months of marriage is that even best friends need space from each other. Relationships that have some room for privacy and a little autonomy thrive better; marriage seems to beg its parties to strike a delicate balance between proximity and distance. It requires us to consciously make space within the confines of our relationship; it is easy to confuse quantity with quality.
“Communication challenges outside of the bed have a funny way of sneaking themselves in it. And without the ability to connect otherwise, even the best sex falls flat after a few months."
I have also discovered that intimacy has very little to do with sexual performance. Contrary to the latest covers of Cosmo or 50 shades of grey, black, or blue or whatever, achieving an intimate connection with your partner is not about some earth shaking techniques or ground breaking moves (although those can help to keep the sex interesting). It does however involve "being" with your partner: being present, being aware, being open, being receptive. It is about non-verbal and verbal signals and communication, it is a visceral call and response. Best served, it is intuitive and reciprocal. I jokingly commented to my husband the other day that "just because we are domesticated does not mean we are not still animals." What I meant is that I desire to share a deeply fulfilling sex life with him and a freedom to express our animal selves outwardly. But sex like any other aspect of a marriage takes nurturing; whatever is not watered will not grow nor bear fruit. And that yard work happens before you even make it to the bedroom. Communication challenges outside of the bed have a funny way of sneaking themselves in it. And without the ability to connect otherwise, even the best sex falls flat after a few months.
When you are loving someone you are there in times of sick and off balance. We are practicing a respect for each other's need for sexual gratification as well as a "no, "not right now", "I'm not feeling up to it". It is very difficult not to internalize your partner's lack of sexual interest as personal rejection. Couples have to calibrate their sexual frequency and decide together how much is enough to meet their needs which may not always equate to how much each individual wants. You as a couple decide how much weight to put on the sex. Intimacy creates space for honesty and compromise. To me, those are the things that help sustain longevity, it's what separates a spouse from a fling. Ultimately, I desire a lifetime with my partner that is both passionate and intimate. And for those in between times we will continue loving up on each other every day in many other ways that are equally satisfying.
How do you practice intimacy? Share with us.