if you want better emotional intimacy in your marriage – make the effort
We had not planned on writing for a day or two, but things can change fast in the blogosphere.
We are seeing comments on various marriage and relationship blogs from women who desire greater emotional intimacy with their husbands and/or are having difficulties in their marriages. As many of these blogs are written by women for women, I do not feel it appropriate to submit extensive comments on these blogs. But, I do want to address this issue in the hopes that we can offer some helpful and practical advice.
It may sound very obvious, but relationships are two-way streets and consist of much give and take. The more successful, happy, and lasting relationships are those where all parties’ emotional needs are being met. (This applies to families as well as to married couples.)
Ongoing sacrifices are required by both spouses for the relationship to grow strong.
Ladies, wives, take a step back and look at your marriage objectively and thus honestly. (Set aside any emotional resentments and frustrations for the moment.) How is the interaction going with your husband? Is your husband making sacrifices to please you and meet your emotional needs? If he is, are you adequately reciprocating the effort to meet his needs?
If you are making only a small effort to meet his needs, and he is making significant efforts (double or triple yours) to satisfy your emotional and companionship needs, you have a problem. Big time. If he is not making much of an effort to please you and meet your needs, then one must ask why is he not doing so?
Some wives for various and sundry “reasons” are guilty of withholding (or limiting) sex from their husbands. A good loving sexual relationship is not the only important ingredient in a happy marriage, but it is an important ingredient (and must not be trivialized). I really believe, and the experiences of many married couples confirms, that issues in sexual intimacy can be worked out successfully if the spouses love and care enough about each other outside of the marriage bed.
If you use sex, or the lack thereof, as a weapon or bargaining chip with your husband, you will eventually see him withdraw emotionally from the relationship. He will become resentful of you even if that resentment is subconscious for him. In most husbands, the resentment will be conscious as he will be aware of it each and every day as he endures sexual frustration. (It is somewhat surprising to read that there are apparently many wives who have some serious inhibitions with sexual intimacy within their marriages.) When the lovemaking is frequent, playful, and passionate, your husband is going to have many more positive, tender and caring thoughts about you throughout the day. These more frequent, positive thoughts will naturally give rise to more thoughtfulness of you on his part. Be aware of and respect his needs for physical sexual intimacy with you! (And, do not refuse reasonable requests in the area of sexual expression and variety.)
But, there are other obstacles to deeper, more fulfilling emotional intimacy in marriage than just inadequate lovemaking. Here is where we must put on our social critic hat. (These thoughts may not be as applicable to other countries, but they do apply to how we raise our daughters here in the USA.) How many mothers and fathers instruct or advise their daughters to make an effort to please their future (or present) husband? This is no trite question. Is there too much emphasis placed on the daughter making sure her future (or present) husband pleases her, or is “good enough” for her? (We touched on this in our cohabitation essay last July.) Again, the reality is that relationships are two-way streets.
As well, feminism (its excesses) has done its damage to many women’s thinking. One notes that some of the most radical and strident feminists have had failed relationships in their lives. So there is good reason to suspect that they may be motivated by personal bitterness. Ladies, do not look at the man in your life as an irredeemable adversary, or a brute. It is encouraging for the future that many young women are rejecting these destructive attitudes, and do not suffer from a hatred of (or antipathy towards) men and anything masculine.
Be mindful of not only what you say, but how you say it. Do you talk down to your husband? Do you belittle him? Do you try to make him feel small or inadequate in any of his endeavors? (If you have such a poor view of your husband, why did you even marry him in the first place?) Please stop the caustic and sarcastic remarks – they do not help to foster emotional intimacy.
Here are some resources in this area by women for women.
Also, from Dr. Laura Schlessinger, we have this book. Read some of the customer reviews, even if you do not want to read the book. Dr. Schlessinger has many years of experience counseling couples with marital problems, and took many thousands of phone calls over many years on her nationally syndicated radio program.
We are updating our essay today to include this recent article that is both relevant and well written:
Thanks for reading.