6 Ways to Restore the Lost Art of Relationship Intimacy
Most people think of 'intimacy' strictly in terms of romantic liaisons. The reality? An increasingly fast-paced, technology driven, take-out dinner society is hurting intimacy in all of our relationships.
It’s troubling to comprehend the true degree of disconnect in today’s world. The mass level of personal social sharing has skyrocketed while individual sharing has plummeted. In essence, creating a ‘bigger macrocosm’ and possibly harming an individual’s ‘microcosm.’
Families in particular, must build and continue to build tremendous intimacy with one another. These are the intimacy roots we return to in good times and bad.
It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of online ‘intimacy security’ especially with social media networks offering great support in times of difficulty. However, those individuals continue to live on a computer screen while family sits at the table next to you.
It is essential to prioritize being intimately connected with family and friends.
Pick up the phone.
Texting is easy. It enables us to be lazy or more aptly put...it allows us to be ‘relationship lazy.’
If you have arrived at a point where even birthdays and holidays are minimized by texting you are skating on intimacy thin ice. This is not to be rationalized. It illustrates a lack of emphasis, time and importance devoted to all or some personal relationships.
The words ‘relationship’ and ‘lazy’ do not play well together.
Texting is widely accepted today. Sadly, so is glancing at a phone and ignoring a loved one because we are tired, will get back to them or are busy. The whole notion is contradictory to relationships. We have these treasured bonds in our lives because we supposedly value the people they are with.
Unfortunately, it seems the more we text, the lazier we become. Conversation is the cornerstone of emotional intimacy and without it, the depth of the connection will wane with time.
Plan new experiences together.
Routines develop unique memories and intimacy for couples, families and friends. The cherished consistency of love shared in expected ways. Nonetheless, creating new experiences helps develop additional ways to share parts of ourselves with others. It increases the opportunity to not only share unfamiliar adventures but old experiences too.
This is true for all types of relationships.
Visiting the town you grew up in could prompt childhood stories you have neglected to share with your mate. A college trip could revisit memories of meeting your spouse which your children have never heard. A local sightseeing trip could unearth a tale of your mother you thought you had long forgotten. Finding a new ice cream store could shift a family routine enough to spark additional conversation.
This is relationship gold in more ways than one. It not only reinforces intimacy by creating new shared memories but it holds the surprise of discovering deeper parts of what is within those we love.
Keep televisions out of the bedroom.
This is not revolutionary wisdom. Televisions have been notoriously booted out of the bedroom to improve physical and romantic intimacy. However, all members of the family especially children can benefit from a television free sleep space.
When the primary television is located in a shared area, it forces the entire family to spend time together. Watching a television show is far from intimate conversational sharing. It does, however, create a unified experience where people come together to laugh and to cry and share other emotions.
It is a huddled and cuddled physical intimacy centered around one common activity.
These shared life moments and adventures create the intimate family history.
No phone or laptop at dinner.
There was a day when nothing was allowed at the dinner table except food and people. Hats were taken off, prayers were said and there was a reverence for this communal time of sharing.
Phones and laptops resting next to plates of food are not annoying. They are relationship killers.
They require the same household accountability as leaving muddy shoes at the front door or dropping keys in a kitchen basket. A space needs to be established for them or they will continue to pop up in unwanted places. A mudroom with shelves or a family room basket to habitually accommodate them during meals and/or other established family time.
It is contradictory to both friendship and family intimacy to stare at cell phones and laptops. Why? The individual you are communicating with is on a screen while the person you should be connecting with is in the room.
Writing a prehistoric letter.
One of the most intimate things in the world is the written word and what it conveys.
Take the time to write a card and include a memory or loving thoughts. Do not simply sign the standard ‘I love you.’
Tell the recipient how they shape your life. Tell them of a song you heard which always brings them to mind. Describe a childhood haunt you just passed which made you laugh at old adventures. Tell them you remembered a kindness they once showed you. Describe the words that come to mind when thinking of them...perhaps big-hearted, kind or generous.
When writing these intimate notes think ‘share’ of yourself and ‘share’ of the person you are writing to. Tell them of their intimate significance in your life.
We should, without question want to share as much as possible with those we love. Intimacy is described as warmth, closeness and familiarity. It is also a ‘deep understanding’ of one another.
Love and intimacy are the best investments we make in life. They far exceed any interest gained from a fast-paced world of technology. -VIA