For many years in our marriage relationship there was very little true intimacy between my husband and I as we know and feel it today, although at the time we would not have questioned the fact that we were in a loving relationship. We unconsciously measured our level of intimacy on how often we performed the sexual act, which at the time we felt was ‘making love.’
At that time, this mode of loving relationship felt quite normal as my women friends and I frequently shared about how tired we were and we talked about our declining ‘sex lives’ often in a humorous way, without truly feeling the sadness within as a result of this lack of connection. Many of us were in paid employment and had young children and we supported each other in the normality of how we were living.
I remember feeling that if I made an effort to have sex once a week that this would keep our relationship intact, and this type of thinking was supported in many of the women’s magazines and ‘agony aunt’ columns at that time. If we did not have sex often, I could always feel the tension building up in my husband, reflected in his moods and stresses.
To the outsider it looked as though we had a very good and satisfying marriage and on many levels this was true as we both loved each other and were committed to caring and providing a great environment for our children. Unfortunately, at the time we did not understand the importance of truly caring for and loving ourselves, and how pivotal this was in growing our own relationship.
Let’s fast forward now to 15 years later – my husband and I are now living in an amazing loving relationship with each other, which continues to get better and better. We both have a more loving connection and a deeper understanding of ourselves as individuals – and as a couple – and we are always discovering ways to take this deeper, even if at times it is painful for either or both of us to admit to the other the imperfections or unhealthy habits which may surface.
We both have a knowing that intimacy is a deep connection with each other, which allows each of us to explore and expose to the other our own sadnesses and hurts, which we had previously buried, and it was the protecting of these that had kept us from connecting more deeply. This is not about perfection as there is always more to explore, but this exposure has allowed us to experience a joy and togetherness in our relationship that we had not felt before.
The intimate connections we have with each other are across the whole day – from how we greet each other in the morning, supportive texts and calls during the day, walking together, listening in full presence to each other, touching each other as we pass, meaningful eye contact – in fact intimacy is threaded through all of our connections.
We now have a marker in our relationship of what is possible and when we stray from this marker, which we do at times, we are able to bring ourselves back to a point of loving understanding much more quickly. After all, none of us wants to live in a disharmonious way with our partner, even though I, like so many of us, had been told many times over the years that arguing with each other is healthy for a relationship!
With this new understanding, we can feel how in the early days of our marriage that when we had sex it was about seeking relief and solace from the inner emptiness we both were feeling. Without a deeper understanding of self-love and true intimacy, we sought the physical closeness of the sexual act to fill this need, which of course it never did.
Today, making love for us is an extension of the intimate way we have connected during the day and the quality of our relationship is no longer measured by the frequency of this, and the frustrations and tensions around this are no longer present.
We are forever appreciating the loving support and reflections we have from those truly divine counsellors Gabrielle Caplice and Annette Baker, as there is always more to explore and we now both do not hold back from going there.
Published with permission of my gorgeous husband, Peter Campbell.
By Anne Hishon, New Zealand